How Much "More" Do You Want
Are you crying out for “more” of God? Do you want to move in His love and power with signs and wonders following? If you answered, “Yes,” you have one more question to consider. Are you prepared to be prepared?
The disciples endured intensive preparation before they embarked on ministries that changed the world. At the cross they died to themselves and their personal hopes for glory, honour, and recognition. Afterward they were broken, humble, contrite, honest and prepared for the Master’s use. My hunch is that God will pour out His power through prepared vessels today as well.
As we complete our third year of renewal, I can’t help but compare our experience to that of the disciples as they lived their third year with Jesus. They had a sense that a very special time of intimacy and training was drawing to a close, but they didn’t quite understand the significance of the cross. Even at the last supper they still argued about who would be greatest in the kingdom. They didn’t understand the Father’s intent to save the lost and Jesus’ commitment to obey no matter what the cost. They couldn’t grasp the huge concept of salvation for the world and its implications.
I wonder, do we grasp what world-wide revival will be like or what it will cost our comfort zones? Do we understand the kind of preparation we need for God to manifest His love and power through us?
In fact, going to the cross is meant to be part and parcel of all Christians’ lives (2 Cor 4:7 11) . When we ask for “more,” we are also asking God to lead us deeper and deeper into Himself. As that happens, something’s in us have to go.
The cost can sometimes be light, sometimes heavy. I sense that as we embrace the next wave of the Holy Spirit, prophesied for release this year with its increased power, many of us will experience the cross of Jesus perhaps for the first time, as God prepares us for the new outpouring.
In 35 years of ministry, for example, God led me deeper into Himself and His purposes through four major cross experiences.
The first occurred when I first entered the ministry as assistant to a godly man pastoring a small, struggling Baptist church. I wanted to share the many wonderful experiences God had given me to help the church come alive. The inner workings of a church are very complicated, however, and I soon encountered barriers to my well-intentioned enthusiasm.
Frustrated by not being able to transfer the wealth of what I thought I knew, I aggravated many relationships. I eventually was fired for not submitting to political constraints that I had deemed unimportant. This broke my pride in my education and my experience in service. God instilled in me a new respect for submitting to “those above you.”
It wasn’t easy to be fired, nor to find out that some of my motives weren’t Christ-like. I worked for the next six months at a minimum wage job, licked my wounds and rediscovered how wonderful Jesus was, and how wonderful l wasn't.
Broken of my conﬁdence in my own ability to “produce,” and resolving to submit to any authority over me, I was free to begin the next adventure with Jesus. God sent us to Sweden.
Over 11 years we founded and directed an international Bible school in Sweden. While we made successful forays into evangelism and discipling the nations, and I was showered with accolades and positive feedback, I knew a growing sense of boredom. A yearning grew to pastor, but I could see no way of leaving the young work in Sweden. As only He can, God finally showed me that He had put that desire in my heart. He also readied me to move on. Our final year at the Bible school was a nightmare of students with problems — depression, bulimia, anorexia, suicidal tendencies, homosexual leanings, and so on — for which I, without having experienced God's power, had no answer. I wanted so much to help, but I didn’t know how.
Just to make sure that I didn’t miss the point, God allowed disunity to develop among the staff. In despair, I threw down a shepherd’s rod at a meeting one evening, and said that I would withdraw until God gave me the staff back without the snake in it.
I learned again that God didn’t depend on all my fine gifts and abilities. He needed me to be willing to continue my pilgrimage with Him toward “more.” As we left Sweden, the Lord told my wife that He was leading us to a “richer, wider place in Jesus.” I couldn’t imagine what that could be, but I soon found out.
I began to pastor a small Evangelical Free church with a lovely group of people. It was a short season of only 15 months, but the Lord opened up a whole new world to me through John Wimber and a Signs and Wonders Conference. Hunger for “more” of God and His power to heal and touch people consumed me.
Unfortunately my church didn’t share my enthusiasm. Gradually it edged me out. This time when I lost my job, we also lost our home – the parsonage — and due to many false reports and rumours circulated about the move of God, I lost many friends. It was the most painful of crosses we had yet borne.
But I also had “more” than I ever had had before in Jesus. We then entered a period of 11 years of pastoring and church-planting with the Vineyard, which started with a wonderful season of power accompanied by signs and wonders. But a dryness swept over us by early ‘86. We grew hungrier and hungrier to see God move again. When the report came about Toronto in early ‘94, my elders jumped at the chance to visit. What a time we had! It continued even when we got back. We were overwhelmed with God's grace, mercy and goodness as His presence came upon us even at home.
As the fun began, so did another trip to the cross. Hundreds came to our renewal meetings, even from long distances, but all our visitors seemed to be content for renewal to stay within our four walls. It was a difficult and confusing time. I began to be burned out from the extra meetings. Then our leadership team was hit with serious illnesses of many different types. Some leaders took positions elsewhere. Many church members didn't want to participate in what God was doing.
Our church “grew” as a result from 400 to 200 people. The renown that we had enjoyed at first didn’t seem quite as appealing anymore, and God began to show me that I had to die even to this wonderful outpouring in order to continue on with Him. Finally, I felt God say, “I want you out of here.” With regret I told my board of elders this, and left my “baby” behind.
None of these cross experiences has been easy, but each was necessary to bring me to the next place God had for me. First He had to remove wrong motives, reactions, plans, and attitudes; then He could give me the “more” I had so longed for in my heart.
God uses whatever is available — our circumstances, friends, families, national economy, those over us, or those against us as cross experiences. Through these He delivers us from our own agendas and plants us ﬁrmly in His purposes. Jesus could have escaped the cross, but then we would be without salvation. Through each cross experience Jesus begins to reign in us more and more, keeping us moving into the “much more” of God.
The cross is hard to bear, but it is good news. Every time we cooperate with a cross in our lives, it yields increasing righteousness and the “more” for which our hearts long.
“Our light affliction, which is hurt for a moment, worketh for us afar more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, hut at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, hut the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor 4:17-18).”
How much “more” do you want, and how much do you want “more?”