The atmosphere crackled with anticipation. Faith was so high you almost needed an oxygen mask to breathe! More than 10,000 people had turned up at a building that only seated 3,000. There were overflow tents for the overflow tents! I had arrived early and managed to get a seat in the main auditorium.
The venue was a church called Christian City near Johannesburg in the mid-1980s and the event was to be a demonstration of the healing power of God. Founded by Pastor Theo Wolmarans in 1979, Christian City church had rapidly grown to a congregation of over 3,000. He preached a message of uncompromising faith and divine healing. Soon testimonies of healing miracles were being spoken of and before long the usual nay-sayers and heresy-hunters began airing their cynicism in the national media.
It led to a showdown! Pastor Wolmarans issued an invitation to all the doubters and “disbelievers” to attend a service and see for themselves the power of God to heal. The “invitation” quickly grew into a “challenge” with TV camera crews in attendance and a panel of “experts” also invited to attend and debate the topic of divine healing.
What might you find if you dug up the basement of your church? If it was St Paul’s or Westminster Abbey, you’d probably find heaps of bones that once belonged to famous people. If you dug up the basement of our church, you might find the scorched and shredded remains of our marquee tent that was destroyed by lightning strike at a Soul Survivor conference!
Workmen digging up the basement of a church in West London in 1966 fell silent when they discovered dozens of discarded crutches, leg braces and wheelchairs buried under the floor - evidence of the miraculous healings that had happened in that place and a poignant testimony to one of the most amazing healing ministries ever to emerge from these shores. The church was Kensington Temple and the legacy belonged to George Jeffreys, founder of the Elim Pentecostal denomination and arguably the greatest British evangelist since John Wesley.
I had a strange dream a few weeks ago in which I visited a friend and offered to write some articles for his church newsletter about the miracle working power of Jesus. But although he knew and loved the Lord, he seemed somewhat reticent when it came to talking about the supernatural power of God.
When I woke up, I had a strong conviction that I should do just that – write some articles and tell some stories about the miracle, healing, supernatural power of Jesus. As I pondered what to call these articles, the name “Chronicles of Power” came to mind. It wasn’t my choice for a title – but I felt the Lord impress upon me that that was what they should be called. And my initial idea was to write these articles and hand out copies in the church. But my wife Marianne said “why don’t you blog them for a wider audience”. And so that’s what I’m doing.
I’ll say more about the future content of the “Chronicles of Power” at the end, but by way of introduction, I want to come back to something in my dream that challenged me – namely our reticence to proclaim the miracle working power of Jesus.
On paper it was a simple mission. I set off for the supermarket this morning in need of one particular grocery item. “Shall I write it down for you?” asked Marianne. “No!” I cried; I will remember that.
I’d no sooner sanitised my hands, donned the mask, cleaned the basket and entered the store when I spotted some multipack Kettle fried crisps on special. Then there was the Copella Cloudy apple juice on discount for club card holders (and no I’m not getting paid for subtle product placement here). The bargains kept coming thick and fast. Chocolate chip hobnobs at half price. Two-for-one on golden crunch creams. A Mexican style salad kit reduced! I had to avoid the dessert aisle altogether as I didn’t have any blinkers to hand.
I eventually prevailed over the self-service checkout that kept insisting I remove a phantom item from the packing area and was halfway home when I suddenly remembered that I’d forgotten the one thing I went for. My heart sank at the thought of turning back to run the gauntlet once again.
There’s a moment of sublime silliness in the James Bond film “Die Another Day” when everyone – including intrepid British secret agent double-o-seven - suddenly realises they’ve been duped. The North Korean baddie we all thought had died at the beginning of the film has in fact been around all the time and no-one, not even his own father, recognised him! How did he manage that, you ask? Well, a few painful sessions in a gene therapy chamber, delete his DNA and give him somebody else’s, and hey presto, Bob’s your uncle! Or at least in this case, your sinister North Korean baddie is now your sneering fair-haired English public-schoolboy fop complete with floppy hair and plum-in-the-mouth accent.
A load of bunkum, I know, but it’s a neat way of illustrating the subject of this latest blog! Last time out (and sorry, it was a long time ago) I wrote about the discipline - the dogged determination - required to create a context for intimacy with God. But it begged the question, why? What is the purpose of intimacy with God? Where are we going with it?
As retirement speeches go, it was unequivocal. “Anyone who sees me in a boat has my permission to shoot me”. Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave had just won his fourth consecutive Olympic rowing gold at the Atlanta games in 1996 and his anguished utterance, as he clambered ashore, resulted from having spent half his life rising at the crack of dawn, come rain or shine, sleet or snow, training hour upon hour, day after day, month after month, year after year.
But Steve Redgrave knew that the relentless regime was worth it! You don’t win gold medals by messing about on a river on a lazy summer afternoon. You win the prize through discipline. Not discipline as in punishment. Discipline as in dogged determination and relentless pursuit.
And he did get in a boat again! Four months later. No one shot him (thankfully), and he went on to win his fifth consecutive rowing gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Discipline pays dividends!
“Garlic Bread? Garlic... bread? Garlic? And bread? Am I hearing you right? Garlic bread?” Bolton comedian Peter Kay’s stand-up routine about a family having a holiday meal in a pub and being offered “garlic bread” has entered comedy folklore in this country. The man’s utter shock and bewilderment at this encroachment of “foreign food” in our British way of life was admittedly hilarious. The joke went on to appear in Kay’s TV sit-com “Phoenix Nights” when the lead character says: “Garlic bread – it’s the future, I’ve tasted it!”. It was voted the best one-liner in TV comedy history.
Strangely, it’s a reaction I’ve encountered when talking to people about intimacy with God. “Intimacy with God? Intimacy….with God? Intimacy? And God? Am I hearing you right? Intimacy with God?” Stranger still is my own response to that reaction – “Intimacy with God – it’s the future, I’ve tasted it!” I wonder if that will be voted the best one-liner in pulpit history??
A friend of mine seemed to take an emotional and psychological step back when I told him about my new journey of intimacy with God, as if I’d just told him I was suffering with a lethal and highly contagious disease. “I can relate to God as a Master and as a Father, but how can you be ‘intimate’ with the divine, transcendent creator of the universe?” he said. Good question.
I had a funny dream a while ago in which I managed to lose my shoes! In the dream, I was passing through a shopping precinct on my way to a meeting when I stopped to browse in a large charity shop. When it came time to continue to the meeting, I left the shop but as I was walking along, I noticed that my shoes were missing!
I thought – I can’t go to the meeting without shoes! So I returned to the charity shop in case I had taken them off there without realising it – I didn’t want someone to find them and think they were for sale. I searched the shop for my shoes but couldn’t find them. Time was getting on, so I decided to quickly buy myself another pair of shoes. I looked first for a cheap shoe shop, but couldn’t find one, and was then looking for any shoe shop when I woke up.
It was only a dream, but it felt like one of those “trojan horse” dreams – carrying a hidden message from the Lord. As I puzzled over what had happened to my shoes, I thought of Moses and the day his life was radically changed after he lost his shoes (Exodus 3:1-5).
I think Jesus is returning soon. Sooner than we think. Heard it all before, I hear you say. Let me assure you that I’m not accustomed to hiding under the stairs with tinfoil on my head or walking round Leicester Square with a sandwich board proclaiming, “The End is Nigh”. And I realise too that it’s one of the most predictably silly things to do, trying to pinpoint when the 2nd Coming will finally happen. Many have tried and ended up with egg - complete with mayonnaise and cress - on their faces.
No, I think the Lord’s return is close because of a significant and exciting “sign” that is unfolding as we speak. Often, when we talk of “signs of the times” in relation to the 2nd Coming of Christ – the prophecies that must be fulfilled before He can return – we focus on the negative and “terrible” ones: wars and rumours of wars, nations against nations; a tsunami of earthquakes, famines and pestilences; family breakdown, and the rise of lawlessness, greed, arrogance, violence and disobedience (see Luke 21:8-11, 2 Tim 3:1-5).
Rarely do we mention the single most important and positive sign of His approaching return – that the church, His Bride, should awaken, arise and enter into a new, passionate, stratospheric level of intimacy with her Lord; that individual believers will begin to hear and answer the call to enter the cloud-filled chamber of His presence (Song of Songs 1:4 The Passion Translation); the secret place of His abiding (Psalm 27:5-6, 32:, 91:9-10 TPT); the higher ground on which we may stand next to Him and be enveloped by His glory (Exodus 33:21).
Welcome to my blog – thank you for stopping by! I’ve never done this before and I’m only doing it now after friends encouraged me to share more widely of the life-changing journey I’ve been on with God over the past couple of years.
It’s not as if my journey only began a couple of years ago – I’ve been a committed Christian for 40 years and a church minister for 36 of those years. But a couple of years ago I began an odyssey into the Song of Songs that has utterly revolutionised my relationship with God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism drawn up in 1647 asked the question: “What is the chief end of man?” – and came up with the answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”. All I can say is, I am enjoying God like I never imagined possible!
It began with awakening - through the passion of Song of Songs - to God’s intense love for me and His deep desire for intimate relationship with me. And the amazing insights offered by Psalm 119, Jesus’ mind-blowing revelations in John chapters 14-16 and Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, have helped me understand so much more of the inner workings of how to walk in intimacy with Him.
A blog by Pastor Brendan munro
Welcome to my blog - thank you for stopping by! I’ve never done this before and I’m only doing it now after friends encouraged me to share more widely of the life-changing journey I’ve been on with God over the past couple of years.