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ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: THE CALL OF THE BRIDEGROOM, Part 5
This is a bit tardy, but allow me to express my thanks to the more than one thousand people who sent me individual birthday greetings for my 70th birthday! Have to say that I was more than a little astonished to receive so many cards, letters and e-notes. It more than doubled the largest number of birthday wishes I've received in any prior years. All I can say is, WOW!!! Anyway, once again, Thank You!
This past weekend was one of the most rewarding experiences in intimate worship that I've seen in more than a decade. Asked to lead worship for a Full Gospel Businessmen's retreat, Rich Warren (close friend, brother, fellow-musician and bassist) joined me in leading somewhere between 120 and 150 men into the presence of the Lord. It would not be overstating things to say that there were more than a few moments when we experienced the Glory of the Lord tangibly.
When you hear more than a hundred men singing at the top of their voice, "Blessing and Honor and Glory and Power be unto the Lamb forever and ever" ..... well, words fail me!! Like I shared with a few folks with whom we fellowship regularly, your goose bumps get goose pimples! (Grin)
There were more than a few occasions when a holy hush settled over everyone and we just basked in the immediate presence of the Lord. One brother told me that he visibly saw angels with us as we worshiped.
As we have done for more than 20 years, the overwhelming majority of the worship and praise music was spontaneous. We had no list of songs to work from, no sheet music in front of any of the musicians, and -- except for Rich and me -- none of them had ever worked with us before; and none of them had ever been involved in a completely spontaneous setting like this before.
Last fall, Rich and I were invited to share this kind of worship at a Seattle high school. Afterwards the band director requested us to stay on and speak with the band class and simply share with them what we were doing, how we got there, and how these young budding musicians could begin moving in this realm themselves. We spent better than an hour sharing with the class. Three of those students came to the retreat and brought their instruments to join in with us. You'd have thought they'd been playing with us for years! Those young men had been working together in the months since we'd shared with them and were ready to flow in the Spirit with us.
Craig Manley brought his (and his church's) drums and percussion, and he joined us for the first time -- again, flowing with us in the Spirit and (as he experienced) doing things in rhythm and percussion he'd never done before.
Finally, another young man from Spain joined us on the keyboard. A trained classical pianist with a stellar reputation as a musician, this was a totally new experience for Jorge. It was a bit reminiscent of our days back in the early 90's when Marcia Treend brought her cello into the mix. Marcia had been principal cellist with the Detroit and Spokane Symphonies with a long career as a classical musician. It was a struggle for her to adapt to a totally spontaneous mode without any sheet music in front of her, playing only what she heard in her spirit. That same thing applied to Jorge, and it was marvelous to watch him adapt in less than three days and flow with us!
It really is a work of the Holy Spirit to bring such a group of musicians together and orchestrate a flow of worship with all of them in such a way that you would think they'd worked together for years! But it is in exactly that kind of unstructured atmosphere with folks who have one mind and one spirit to minister to the Lord that the Holy Spirit can create the most extravagant flow, exhibiting the Glory of the Lord in such a profound manner!
Once again, all I can say is, WOW !!! What a way to live!
Instead of just ending this Coffee Break in my usual manner with a note from one of the prophetic individuals I've come to know and appreciate, it seemed appropriate to begin this one with a word from Arthur (Art) Katz, a Messianic Jewish brother whose ministry I was introduced to some 40 years ago.
“‘The time is surely coming,’” says the Lord God, ‘that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord’” (Amos 8:11-12).
"The thought strikes me that the famine is not so much for the lack of speaking as the lack of hearing. I have had the increasing impression that God’s people do not know how to hear the word of God. Or, unlike the Thessalonian converts from paganism, they do not believe that the word they are hearing is indeed God’s word.
Therefore, the word is received casually if not indifferently as the word of man, that is to say, without effect. Perhaps we have been filling up on verbal “junk food” and have dulled our appetites for “real food” by the profusion of much speaking of our own that leaves us sated if not bloated, and therefore we suffer malnutrition in the midst of seeming plenty. Certainly we lack the evidence of growth and change that the word of God should accomplish, and we seem fixed in our immaturity and shallowness.
Perhaps we need to consider that the act of hearing is as much an act of grace as that of speaking itself. Surely God's Word requires an attentiveness and retention for which the world has not schooled us. The sobering caution, "When you hear My voice, harden not your hearts" implies that God's Word will not allow our indifference. If there is not a hearing, then there will certainly be a hardening!"
This is an excellent admonition for God's people today. Art's comment that "we have been filling up on verbal "junk food" and have dulled our appetites for "real food" hits the nail on the head. That "verbal junk food" is partly a product -- as Art notes -- of much speaking, as well as the "mixture of truth with poison" to which I referred as we wrapped up the last Coffee Break.
Oftentimes, attempts by ministers to apply the formulas learned in Bible College or seminary to deal with critical situations in the lives of people they're supposed to be responsible for results in tragedy or even greater chaos. When the formulas fail, and the lives of those people who depend on him crash, condemnation sets in. Because the "minister" has put his dependence on formulas and doctrines which are now ingrained into the very core of his existence -- in the name of putting that dependence in the Lord -- the "minister" now feels that the Lord has failed him. Despair sets in, depression reigns, and questions arise by the multitude. What's the problem?
The "minister" never heard from the Lord. Much of his upbringing and preparation for "ministry" was predicated on "profane, empty babblings which only serve to advance ungodliness." Much of his upbringing and training was based in "performance."
This results in judgment and criticism of the people who fail in their efforts to apply the formulas he is teaching. Condemnation and despair set in for those who cannot make their "faith" work according to the formulaic methodology they are taught and, all too often, they decide to give up trying because "they are not spiritual enough."
This is not relationship with the Lord! This is legalism and performance! Those who have suffered these guilt pangs need to dump them as coming from Satan, and not from the Lord! (I share these things from the perspective of having spent most of my life "in the ministry" [to use the common cliché] and having seen many of my brethren suffer in this manner.)
Referring back once again to the last Coffee Break (and the retranslation of II Timothy 2:15 from the Greek text) there is another side to this concept of "study" which affects all of us -- and particularly, those of us who have over the years received visions or experienced something where the Lord has revealed a truth with a specific application to us.
Like so many of my brethren, I experienced much in the way of revelation from the Lord in my early youth. Although I was extremely blessed by the character and dimension of the experiences which the Lord gave to me, I grew up in classical Pentecostal circles with all of the attendant church structure. The things which the Lord spoke within my spirit in those early days were of such a nature that I could not find a way to make them fit within my understanding. When I attempted to share them with men and women in leadership within the denomination, the most common response was, "Well, that's wonderful, son! Some day the Lord will use you as a pastor, or a missionary, or even an evangelist, and you'll win lots of souls for Christ."
In my spirit, I knew this was a wrong interpretation and application of what the Lord was saying, but there was absolutely nothing within the church structure which would permit me to function as the Lord had revealed Himself to me. By the same token, I had no example of that which had penetrated my being by the Holy Spirit among any leaders whom I knew (or knew of), nor among my peers. In my thirst for revelation knowledge, I read -- voraciously! I couldn't stand books on doctrine, and I detested the great majority of the so-called religious books which were available, so I read the Bible -- from cover to cover -- again, and again, and again. By the time I got ready to attend Bible college, I had been through the Bible, from cover to cover, at least 25 times, had memorized hundreds of verses, some entire books of the Bible, and many chapters verbatim from the KJV.
The primary thing Bible college did for me was to program me to fit those things which the Lord had revealed to me in my early youth into the framework of the church system or structure. I became "a pastor." For much of the first 25 years of pastoral ministry, I struggled to fit the mold. At least three times, different pastors -- brethren with whom I was closely associated, labored with and deeply respected -- came to me and said, "Regner, I'm not sure what you are, but you certainly are not a pastor!"
The more they said it, the more frustrated I became, and the greater the internal drive to fit the stereotypical model. It was not until the summer of 1974 that I received a direct word from the Lord which clarified the situation, and delivered me from the necessity of fitting the structural and religious mold. I have from time to time continued on in a kind of pastoral ministry but I've now just pastored as a part of what God called me to. I've been able to minister freely without the structural requirement or the pressure of fulfilling someone else's expectations of what "a pastor" is supposed to be.
Enter the next phase of deliverance. (This was only the first of several stages of deliverance from "religion.") In 1975, the Lord began the revelation to me of the vision which most of you have heard related as "The House of Praise." Without relating all of the detail, suffice it to say that this vision began with a perspective of David, the tabernacle he set up, and the praisers and worshipers he appointed, and employed on a 24-hour-per-day basis to minister to the Lord. Being still stuck in the "structure" of the church, I related everything the Lord was showing me to church structure, and tried to make it fit within that structure. As a result, I saw "The House of Praise" as a modern-day version of the ministry David instituted, with singers and musicians on a payroll, ministering to the Lord in a building, or structure, which would be called "The House of Praise."
For fifteen years I was stuck with this "vision." It was not that the vision was flawed, or that the revelation came out of eating chocolate-covered jalapeno peppers before going to bed one night. The problem was that I interpreted what the Lord showed me within the framework of my religious understanding, even going so far as to place advertisements in the Anchorage Daily News for musicians and singers who were "oriented towards praise" music, and then interviewing the respondents in an effort to "put this thing together." From where the Lord has brought us today, this comes across as sincere stupidity. (I was genuinely sincere -- and stupid!) We laugh every time we talk about it.
Some months after Earle, Marcia, Della and I began to gather together daily for worship, the real truth of the revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. Where our worship began with a few minutes each day, as the daily gathering continued throughout the months, we found that we were ministering to the Lord -- in the corporate sense -- for anywhere from an hour to three or four hours.
When we would break up and head to our respective homes at the end of the day, the worship continued in our beings on nonstop basis. It became so strong that we would awaken in the middle of the night singing in the spirit. When we arose in the morning, worship was going through our spirits. During the workday, in the midst of performing normal work duties which would seemingly have nothing whatever to do with spiritual things, worship would be flowing uninterrupted through our spirits to the Lord.
What David accomplished, and had to pay singers and musicians to accomplish after the flesh, the Lord accomplished in us after the Spirit. We didn't have 128 singers and musicians like David did -- it just started with the four of us -- and we couldn't be gathered together 24 hours per day like those singers and musicians did in shifts, but worship was going forth, nonetheless -- in our spirits -- 24 hours per day. We were the House of Praise! We had become a House of Worship.
This is the very thing which the Lord is addressing in us, NOW. Most of us have received visions of things to come; and most of us have, in some way, become involved in activities related to these visions in an honest effort to carry out what we believe the Lord has spoken to us.
Has the Lord spoken to us? YES! Has He given us a vision of His purposes for these end-times? YES! Have we tried to fulfill that which the Lord has given us according to our understanding? With all of our hearts! Is that understanding flawed by religious doctrines and years of indoctrination within the church structure? Without question! Have we missed the mark? Sure we have!
Does that mean that we've completely set aside the idea of a physical location for a 24-hour ministry of praise and worship similar to the Tabernacle of David? NO!
You see, sometimes it is necessary for Holy Spirit to rid us of preconceived notions and religious programming before He can move us forward with the vision He has imparted. We must first be free of religion and religious concepts if we are to respond and act according to the Lord's plans and purpose. We must first become that to which we are being called. We must first become the visual of that which Holy Spirit has shown us before we can go any further!
Let's get one thing straight! The call of the Bridegroom is to intimacy with Him! The call of the Bridegroom is to and for a people who will fulfill Him, His heart's desires and His destiny for each of us within His Kingdom. This is a call for an overcoming people -- not a people who are content with who they are in Christ Jesus, and not a people who are content with "business as usual."
Those "business as usual" Christians (and I use that word rather loosely) may actually make it to Heaven by the stupendous grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, just by virtue of their acceptance and acknowledgement of His shed blood on the Cross, but they will NEVER be invited into the Bridal Chamber.
Finally -- and most of all -- the call of the Bridegroom is to and for a people who will literally and demonstrably BECOME HIS BRIDE, His Counterpart, His Other Self!
Are we clear? Good! Next week we'll move this discussion along as we talk about Practical Discipleship.
"God is waiting for those to arise who will lay down their own lives and agendas to become the intercessors He must have. He's waiting for preachers to arise who are willing to stand against any amount of scorn, ridicule, or persecution to declare God's truth, righteousness, and justice without compromise. He is willing. Are we? The Lord lit the fire on the altars of His tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem. He then commanded the priests to keep these fires going. Likewise, only God can start an authentic revival, but only man can end it by not keeping the fire going. For this to be done, there must be an underlying hunger for God and willingness on the part of His people to sacrifice their own purposes to give themselves for His purposes." (Prophetic Word from Rick Joyner)
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener CAPENER MINISTRIES
709 South 7th Street Sunnyside, Washington 98944 (509) 515-0133
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