When God spoke to me to put this event together, I didn't completely know what to expect. I'd never heard of this being done before, though I'm not claiming I'm the original by any means. I just knew that God spoke to me to put this together to honor the great men of God who blazed the trail before us and also to reignite something in our church and individual lives. How all this was going to take place, I wasn't sure. I certainly wasn't sure what the services would turn out to be. I wasn't sure if they would be attended and supported. I just knew God led me to do this and I'm so very grateful that He did. Having said all that, this is my blog with my thoughts and my thoughts only. This means that what I'm going to say and write doesn't necessarily reflect the overall opinion of the church or the people in it. I wanted to make that declaration first and foremost before I go any further.
First, the services. Wow! God showed up each and every night. Every speaker unknowingly preached a similar theme, night in and night out. That theme was God's grace, power, and a return to trusting the Word and the Spirit in the days in which we live. Every message preached confirmed what God has been saying to our church for sometime now. In fact, some of the messages actually were verbatim what I preached last Saturday night and Sunday morning. I can't tell you how good it felt to receive this confirmation that what God has had me preach is without a doubt for our church and community and is a message that crosses generational gaps. Bro. Carlton Ring preached Sunday night on being a truth teller and not a truth suppressor. In the world in which we live, we must stand up for truth as Paul exhorted the church to do in Romans 1. The church has to remember where God brought us from in doing ministry in today's world. We're not superior to anyone. We're just saved and have a hope and a message. Bro. Lowell Smith preached Monday night about the need for the power of God to awaken us to ministry and to return to the days of miracles. He proclaimed strongly that we must quit judging one another and condemning one another both in and outside the church. Our job is to preach the Gospel, not judge. What a great reminder of the church's mission! Tuesday night, Bro. Jesse Ogden preached a tremendous message on the need to live life in the Spirit and how the power and miracles have not ceased, but instead are very active in the people of God who will seek Him with their whole hearts. We need to know why we do the things we do and seek to please Christ above all else. Last, Bro. Sam Creamer preached what he proclaimed to probably be his last message ever with reminding the church that there were three things in which there was no substitute for: salvation (you can't earn it and there's no other way except Jesus), the baptism of the Holy Ghost (must have the power of God to make it today), and the anointing (it breaks the yoke of bondage over our lives). Bro. Sam being able to stand in the pulpit and preach is a miracle in and of itself and I'm proud that we were able to be a part of the bookend to this great ministry from this great man of God.
I was blessed tremendously in each and every service, but something happened Tuesday night in the altars I won't ever forget. Bro. Ogden asked for all who wanted more of God to come to the altar and just begin to speak our praise and request to the Lord. As I stood in the altar, I was battling several emotions (I'll talk about these in part 2 of this blog). And as I stood there, I began thinking of these men and their families and how they had committed the better part of their lifetimes to serving the Lord without fail. I thought about myself and began repenting of everything in me that wasn't pleasing to the Lord. I began praying and asking God to forgive me for failing Him and not always representing Him as I should and to forgive me for not being a good pastor like He needed me to be. About that time, Bro. Ogden came down from the stage and spoke a message in tongues to me and then interpreted it. Mind you, I was praying in my head so no one knew what I was saying. He interpreted the message and said, "Ryan, God called you when you were a child and you accepted that call and you have been faithful in it. He has kept you and He has used you greatly. He is well pleased with you, but this is not all that your ministry is to be. He is about to give you a refreshing of strength to move forward in your calling and your ministry will reach the masses and many will be saved and changed. God is refreshing you to do something new in you."
I was in awe. I began to breakdown. Here I was beating myself for being so horrible and not good enough, and God's word to me was that He is well pleased with me. At first, I wanted to reject it. How could God be pleased with me? I'm nothing. I fall short more than I should. I'm erratic sometimes in spiritual disciplines. Sometimes I'm guilty of getting ahead of God and worse, allowing my anger to overcome me. The church isn't growing as fast I want it to. How could God be pleased with me. But as I prayed and pondered the words even longer, I felt the sweetest presence of the Lord come over me and I could hear Him speaking to me directly, "I love you Ryan. I am very pleased with you. Keep trusting me and I'll see you through." I needed this more than anything. I'm pretty hard on myself most of the time and as confident as I may seem to many, I struggle with a need for affirmation. Facing what I've faced in four and a half years of pastoral ministry alone, I have found myself close to burn out on multiple occasions and at my rope's end at other times. Questions of why and what certainly plague me more often than they should, but to know through it all, God is well pleased with me . . . . Thank you Jesus.
I certainly need a refreshing and I'm feeling it for sure. What the new thing is that God is going to be doing in my ministry, I'm not sure, but I'm excited for it. More later . . .