The Fathers Blessing Touches Israel
Wave after wave of God's love rolled over me.
In Hebrew, the word for “revival” is “t’chiyah,” which really means “resurrection.” Something or someone was dead, and they have been brought back to life. My wife and I and our church were resurrected when we bumped into God six years ago on our first visit to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. New life came to our church, a Messianic congregation in Jaffa, Israel, and us as we began to experience God’s love for us as Abba, Father.
For us, being revived now means knowing our Heavenly Father. As I lay on the floor of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship doubled over with joy, wave after wave of God’s love rolled over me. The Spirit was revealing my Father to me. He was holding me in his arms, bouncing me up and down, and telling me just how much he loved and cared for me. This was no theoretical teaching about the love of God and how He wants to be my Father, but an actual physical and spiritual encounter with my Father. It was the beginning of a deep inner release in my life that comes from living out the experience of walking with God as Abba, Father.
OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF MAN
He showed me that for years I had been living and ministering with the fear of man in my heart. I became aware that much of my behavior, ways of thinking and relating, even my personality were often the result of seeking acceptance from friends. I began to realize that it was this fear that had prevented me from developing properly as a pastor. The constant need to please people was crippling the development of my gifts and personality.
In Deut. 1:26-31, it describes how the children of Israel were not able to enter into their Promised Land because they were so afraid. Moses said to them, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you as he did in Egypt and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a Father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” God was teaching Israel that because He was their Father they did not need to be afraid.
All that Yeshua became as a man was a result of this relationship with His Father.
When I was a child there was a boy in our neighborhood that used to beat me up all the time. I’d come running home to my father who would talk to him and his parents, but it never helped. He kept on beating me up. Finally my father said, “Come on, son, I’m coming with you and I want you to fight this kid back. Show him you are not afraid.” I was afraid, but I was able to face my fear because I knew my Abba would be there. I fought that kid, and even though he still beat me up again, he never bothered me again after that because he knew I wasn’t afraid to fight back. A child who grows up in the security of a Father’s care is able to gain the confidence necessary to try new things, develop his own personality, and become the person God intended him or her to be. A crucial role of a father is to instill within his children the confidence they need to grow and develop their skills, personalities and gifts.
Even Jesus’ (Yeshua) call began with the affirmation “You are My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” This was at the beginning of His ministry, before He had “done” anything. Did Yeshua need this affirmation? Did He not know that He was and is the Father’s only Son? Yes, I believe that He knew His Father and He knew that He was the beloved Son, but it was still necessary for Him to hear the Father say, “You are My beloved Son.” This word was not for the crowds, but was an intimate conversation between a father and son. All that Yeshua became as a man was a result of this relationship with His Father. His whole identity, not only on earth, but also for all of eternity is a result of His being the Son of God.
THE KEY TO PRODUCING FRUIT: KNOWING GOD THE FATHER
Revival for me has meant growing in the confidence that results from knowing God as my Father. My gifts have begun to develop, and I am being released into fruitful ministry as I learn to allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life rather than depend so much on what others say or do. In the past I would often compare myself with other ministries, or even copy what others were doing because I just didn’t have the confidence to allow my own leadership qualities to develop. Today I would rather submit to the simple work God is doing in my life and in our congregation than try to reproduce what others are doing elsewhere. I have learned that simple ministry flowing out of a child- like trust and intimacy with God as my Father produces far better fruit than trying to imitate the most impressive ministries elsewhere.
There has been wonderful fruit from this lesson in the congregation. For years I had prayed that the Lord would raise up a team of men to help carry the responsibility of overseeing the congregation’s life, yet no such team ever developed. I believe this was because I lacked the confidence and inner security necessary for those around me to be released into areas of service and gifting. I felt threatened and afraid. As I become more confident in my own relationship with the Lord, I am far more vulnerable and able to help others with their callings and gifts. Today I have a team of young men, praying and sharing our lives together. We put emphasis on building strong, secure relationships amongst ourselves and strive to be examples of unity, grace and love to the whole flock. We try to model accountability, vulnerability, and gentleness in all of our relationships both at home and in our fellowship.
Our congregation has grown rapidly since being revived.
We see other results as well. Unbelievers are coming to faith. For years I was afraid to share my faith openly, especially amongst my own people. I lacked the confidence necessary to witness openly about my faith to unbelievers, and this was also the pattern followed by most of the fellowship. Now that’s changed too. Sensing that the Lord wanted to teach us a strategy for reaching a whole city, last summer we began a campaign of intercession and evangelism to the city of Bat-Yam (southern Tel Aviv). Together with prayer walks, worship and warfare over the city, we hand delivered to the 50,000 homes invitations to receive a full-length video on the life of Yeshua in Hebrew and Russian since there are many Russian Jews in this city. The response was overwhelming. We are still sending teams to visit the thousands of homes where people saw the film and expressed a desire to know more. Many young people have come to faith, and we also discovered ten “secret believers,” Jewish people who believe in Yeshua as their Messiah but have not yet joined with local congregations. Our congregation has grown rapidly since being revived and is now one of the largest in the country.
Revival has birthed a fresh outpouring of God’s presence in our gatherings here at Beit Immanuel, the House of Immanuel, bringing new songs and new dimensions of worship on fresh wings of the Spirit. The Lord has blessed us with a young and exciting worship team. We are often asked to minister in different conferences around the country and abroad. We believe the Lord is restoring something of “the Tabernacle of David”, which we understand to be a song and experience in worship which is indigenous to the land of Israel and which calls forth the fresh outpouring of God’s presence.
It is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that opens hearts that would otherwise be unable to respond to the revelation of Yeshua as Messiah and Son of God.
Some weeks ago we were worshipping at a coffeehouse in Jerusalem, reaching out to Israelis who are open to Yeshua. As the sense of God’s glory tangibly filled the room, people extinguished their cigarettes and a hush filled the room. Then the presence of God inspired everybody to get up on their feet and dance in the joy of the Lord—including a young Yeshiva student in his traditional Ultra- Orthodox dress! At this point we were able to preach Yeshua as Messiah with authority and with tremendous results. We believe that it is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that opens hearts that would otherwise be unable to respond to the revelation of Yeshua as Messiah and Son of God.
Every morning as I lie in bed my wife quotes the scripture to me, “Get up, Lazarus!” Every day I am reminded afresh of my Father’s love and the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit breathing new life into our family and our congregation; and I am so thankful to the Father for the Revival that we’re experiencing.