John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto...
I am hearing the Spirit say to me, “It is time to seek the Lord.”
Oh, it is not that Carol and I have stopped seeking Him altogether, but the pressures of life and ministry keep chipping away at our private time with Him in the secret place. I know that many of you as our readers can relate to this.
For me, there is the day-to-day running of the business side of a busy ministry. Staff meetings, board meetings, finance meetings, travel, articles to write and a hundred and one other things that all vie for my time and attention. Even running successful meetings can get to the place where it is easy to feel that I am living in a conference/revival ghetto with tunnel vision and wishing that the treadmill would stop.
We have had eleven and one half years of a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, more fantastic than I can put into words. I feel that God has done exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask or think.
TACF as a church has grown much bigger, three to four times the size it was at the beginning of 1994. We have about 150 cell groups with many new cell leaders in training. We have recently opened another campus in the east end of Toronto with more satellite campuses to follow soon. Our School of Ministry has trained and equipped over 1,000 young people. The Partners in Harvest network has about 130 partner churches internationally with hundreds more linking with us as friends. The soaking center vision has exploded with 6,500 people buying starter kits. Many of those people have taken training schools and weekend seminars with us in order to facilitate a ministry in their home. Training and equipping conferences, both at home and throughout the nations, are having a continued impact and facilitating revival around the world.
Then there are our Mission Leadership Training Schools, our Itinerant teams who are constantly traveling and carrying the fire to the nations. I have been in Latvia, Russia, Italy, Japan and Colombia just in the months of May and June. So the Holy Spirit is active both at home and in the nations.
Thankfully, revival is happening.
In China alone, there are 30,000 new believers every day. Asia, Africa and Latin America are blazing with revival. Isn’t it odd, then, that not one of the world's forty largest churches is in the USA or another Western nation. The significant church growth is taking place outside the West. According to Dawn Fridayfax and the works of missiologist, Prof. David Barrett, America has 840 churches with over 2,000 members, only five are in the 20-25,000 member range. Compare that to South Korea with three churches of over 100,000 members and dozens of others with very high memberships. Yet the most fantastic growth is coming from house church networks that are exploding in China, India and other non- western nations. Estimates are that there are at least 20 house church networks with over 250,000 members attending weekly. Estimates are of upwards of 1 billion people around the world are now born-again believers in Jesus.
So, God is on the move, but in spite of a glorious move of the Holy Spirit at home and abroad, the West seems resistant and hardened to the invitation to the wedding feast that Jesus spoke of in His parable. I am so thankful to all of you who love the River and are committed to keeping the fire of the Holy Spirit burning, but we are all asking, “What can we do to reach North America and Europe?” God is saying, “Seek My face!”
As I read the news, I see a world in deepening crisis. There is the oil crisis. Prices are now over $60 per barrel. Think about the economic domino effect of those spiraling costs, not to mention that the world’s oil supplys could run out in about twenty years.
We have “fished out” the oceans in many parts of the world draining this resource faster than the fish can multiply. Fish are also dying because we are polluting the waters.
Fresh water supplies are also in trouble. I know that my grandfather would not believe that the day would come when many Canadians would buy their drinking water.
Think about the world’s weather. Daily on the news, we see the stories of drought in some regions and torrential rains while there are floods in others. Just last June, I read of record temperatures in India, 51.1 degrees Celsius, which is 124 degrees Fahrenheit! Many were dying of the searing heat.
We are all aware of the devastating 9.1 earthquake in December and the resulting tsunamis that took more than 230,000 lives in Asia.
Did I forget to mention the sweeping AIDS epidemic that is decimating the populations of many dozens of nations? Six African nations are suffering with 20% of their populations infected with AIDS/HIV. One of them, Swaziland, has 38.8% of their people infected. The culture cannot cope with the thousands of dead and dying. This is not to mention the threat of diseases like Bird Flu and the repeated warnings from the World Health Organization that we are overdue for a massive pandemic. In the 1918 Influenza epidemic, upwards of 40 million people died around the world.
Crises, disasters and plagues are sweeping the nations, while Canadian politicians and those of other nations spend their time legalizing same sex marriage.
How does it all add up?
Tremendous spiritual harvest co-exists in the poorer nations of the world along with apathy and indifference in the wealthy nations of the world, and that often in the midst of revival.
Are we in the last days, the time of the end, and we do not even know it? Recently, I was moved as I read and reread Matthew 24 and Luke 21. “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” The disciples asked Jesus.
This is how He replied, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows...
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24)
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”(Luke 21)
If you think all this sounds like the news show this morning, maybe it is time to seek the Lord!
A friend once said to me, “Yes, He is the Lord of the Harvest, but He is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus is saying to me, “It is time to seek the Lord.” In the midst of our own business and a world in crisis, we need to stop and look at what is happening around us.
You ask, “John, what are you trying to say?” I am trying to say that this is no time to be lukewarm. This is no time to be prayerless even in the midst of our busyness for the Lord, working for Him with more fruitfulness than we have ever seen before. Even in the midst of revival and blessing, disaster is threatening, and IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD!
Recently while I was in Rome, Italy, I had the opportunity to visit the catacombs where nearly 250,000 first and second century Christians are buried. They died in faith. They died with their hope fixed on Christ Jesus, their living Saviour and Lord. I realized again that things in this life are so fleeting.
"...This is no time to be lukewarm. This is no time to be prayerless.”
Someone has said, “Only one life will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
In the midst of all my busyness, running here and there even doing good things for the Kingdom of God, I want to stop, step out of my conference ghetto, look outside my tunnel, and see that the world is in deep trouble. Things are moving rapidly toward a grand windup, and I want to be full of oil that causes me to be on fire for Jesus. So how do you seek the Lord?
I like to pause everyday and in the midst of implementing my vision for the future, take time to soak in His Presence and give Him a chance to talk to me about my relationship with Him. He is more important than anything I do for Him. As I wait in His Presence, He strengthens me with comfort and encouragement.
While I am a planner and a builder, I always want to remember that today may be my last. I want to invest the time I have remaining on this earth in what is really important to Jesus. I want to love Carol and my kids and their families in such a way that they know it. I want my motives to be pure. I do not want to be building my kingdom, but His.
All my plans are worthless unless Jesus has ordered them.
It is not about doing “for” Jesus, but rather, doing what He wants me to do. “Seeking the Lord” means letting Him establish my priorities.
Seeking the Lord also means allowing Jesus Christ to tell me how I am to react to the frightening facts I have described in this article. I know that He does not want me to fear and that He does not expect me to solve all the problems I have just described. Does He want me to pray for a nation or maybe one person in it? Where does He want me to go? Maybe it is only across the street where I will bear my greatest fruit. Which plan of action brings me peace? After all, the peace of God needs to rule my heart through faith.
The hardest thing for a visionary to do is to wait on God. But maybe that is the kind of “fasting” I need to do - just waiting for Him to lead me. I do not think that “seeking the Lord” is about religious effort. That is too easy; but rather, it’s about joyfully entering into the place of rest in God, abiding in Him so that I may bear fruit that remains in the time I have left.
After I have paused to let Him lead, then I will continue laboring in the harvest. Then I will have confidence that I am being faithful to Him, not simply active “for” Him. I want to be Mary, not Martha. How about you?
This archived article was written by John Arnott for release in Aug, 2005. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
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