Monday, October 25, 2010
The Week After a Solemn Assembly
Some have asked for my reflections regarding the Solemn Assembly held at Meadowbrook Church on October 16. Click here for a refresher on what a Solemn Assembly is and why I led one.
In December 2009 I went away to a cabin for two and a half days for a personal retreat with God. While praying and reading I felt impressed that God was calling me to lead the church in the experience of examination, confession, repentance and sanctification (the process of God making a person and a church holy). What’s more, I believe that God was calling me to be a catalyst to the churches in the Northwest that belong to the convention my church partners with. I was elected president of this organization in November.
From December 2009 to October 2010 I have been in constant personal preparation in order to follow through on this calling. It has been very intense for me and I’ve been deeply impacted by God.
What I’m describing has both biblical and historic precedence. From time to time God has called His church to stop wandering and drifting and to return to Him with great passion and commitment. Such seasons have sometimes resulted in a reviving of God’s people and an awakening (disconnected people seeing their need for God and running to Him) of the surrounding region. I believe God was stirring me to be catalytic for this kind of gracious manifestation of the Lord in our midst.
So, what happened? In short it was a very good day. Early in our time together I gave a prayer exercise to all that asked a series of penetrating questions through which the Holy Spirit may stir conviction over sin and confession. Following the personal time everyone paired up with another person of the same sex and spent some time verbally confessing their sins to one another. This could be the perfect moment for resistance and rejection of God’s work in us. I was most anxious about how everyone would respond to this step.
Confession proved to be powerful and though I called us to the next exercise some continued where they were with their partner until all of their confession was complete.
There was also intercessory prayer for one another and for church leaders in small groups. After breaking our fast with the Lord’s Supper and a mid-day meal we concluded the day by responding to God’s call for our church to be catalytic to our sister churches for revival and awakening. To a person all the participants stood with personal commitment to God and one another!
Following our gathering I collapsed at home in exhaustion, gratitude and wonderment. I wondered how deeply we collectively had been touched by God’s Spirit. I wondered how strongly passion for God was stirring in us. I wondered if we had a momentary “spiritual hiccup” after which we would return to “life as usual”.
Historically when God has moved upon a people, the people often melted in God’s presence with weeping over sin and cries for forgiveness and emotional expressions of commitment. We had none of that. And, I don’t personally think that we have to have the emotion but it does make me wonder. Our church is filled with thinking people and if something is percolating at a deep place of thought that results in Holy Spirit breathed transformation and resolve then praise the Lord.
How will we know if a reviving work of God has taken place among us? I believe that we will see the following 4 things be characteristic of us.
1. There will be greater humility in our lives where we make much of God and little of self.
2. There will be greater practice of confession of sins.
3. There will be greater appreciation for justification (this word alone deserves an entire post).
4. There will be greater burden for those who are still under condemnation for sin (this also deserves a full post).
For now we watch and see how responsive to God we become. Meanwhile I’m preparing for the annual meeting of our convention of churches where on behalf of God I’ll issue the call for our sister churches to engage God in Solemn Assemblies across the Northwest.