Reflections on Azusa Now
The Jubilee of the Undivided Bride
One day we will worship with every tribe, tongue and nation before the throne of God, and the Kingdom of God on the earth should reflect this coming day. The apostle Peter caught this revelation when the Lord spoke to him about the grafting in of Gentiles. He proclaimed, “truly there is no partiality!” One of the marks of the Azusa Street revival in 1906 was the breaking of racial barriers.
What a foretaste of heaven we caught Saturday with Azusa Now! There were moments of worship with First Nation peoples, the Jewish community, charismatic Catholics, and racial and ethnic reconciliation. The time of prayer directed at racial reconciliation was the richest invitation I have ever seen. I encourage you to tune in at 6:20.
We are invited to hearing the groans of a generation and mourn with those who mourn. Will we pay greater attention to political conversations or the heart of our brothers? We must bind our hearts with the Man of Sorrows and walk in the ministry of reconciliation. My heart was pierced when Lou Engle exhorted us, “We don’t do the bible! And when we don’t do the bible, we don’t get revival!” Will we ask the holy spirit to remove thought patterns of thinking of other people groups in unbiblical ways? There is a prophetic invitation in this hour of racial tension to see the Church arise. Jesus is coming back for a spotless, undivided Bride and we choose now to become the mature bride.
A prophetic song broke forth as this time of prayer was closing. “Jubilee! This is the year to be free!” May this be the anthem and the incense of our lives!
The Revival Within
As I sit here at The Altar on this Friday night reflecting on TheCall: Azusa Now, I’m asking, “what would you have me tell them about what happened last weekend, Jesus?”
The revival didn’t swoop in like it did in 1906, and it wasn’t what some people may have expected. There weren’t masses of people falling out, there wasn’t an uproar of prayer languages or tongues of fire above our heads, and there wasn’t lightning that cracked through the sky to light the Olympic torch on fire (though I did ask the Lord if he would do that because how cool would that have been?!). The Holy Spirit was ushered in through fifteen hours of prayer and worship, contending for him to break in and kick start the third great awakening. It was sweet and it was simple. The day was full of beautiful moments of reconciliation, signs and wonders, and all different streams of Christianity coming together as one Bride.
There wasn’t a boom of thunder and the audible voice of God over the Coliseum; there was the gentle whisper of the Father saying “the revival is in you.” The Lord is mighty and great in power, and we could wait and tarry and ask God to show up in big ways, and there’s nothing wrong with contending, but we miss the point if we just wait on the supernatural. God inserts the super into our natural, and the revival looks like us moving in the authority of all that we have been given — the revival looks like us stepping into our positions as disciples of Christ, going into all of Washington, all of Pennsylvania, all of the United States, and into all the nations to say this: Jesus came for you, he died for you, and he rose again for you.
The revival looks like us walking in obedience and trusting that the Holy Spirit will meet our natural with his super and turn our faith-filled prayers into actual signs and wonders. The revival isn’t God breaking in with fire and rain (though he may do that!); the revival is us going and doing what we have been charged to go and do since Jesus triumphed at the resurrection.
The Day We Layed Our Weapons Down
As April skies loomed above us, bodies sheltered by water-repelling fabrics stood steady below the slow rainfall. It was here that I found my place among the tens of thousands who had come to see a century-old prophecy unfold. My trip was already covered in the faithfulness of the Lord, and the promises of his goodness-to-come built my own expectation for what the Lord had in store for that day.
Azusa Now was unlike anything that I had experienced before. Yes, I had been in massive Christian gatherings where tens of thousands had joined under a banner of worship, but the atmosphere in the L.A. Coliseum on April 9. 2016 was completely different. I could almost taste the intentionality with which this day had been prepared. Not only had sweet pockets of humanity partnered together to prepare for this day in fasting and prayer, but I believe that the Lord had begun preparations for April 9th long before the multitudes gathered – he planned to use this day to make ready His Bride for our soon-coming King Jesus. It was a day that I will never forget, because it was a day that the Bride of Christ chose to lay her weapons down.
We have heard of the divisions that have marked church history – denomination, race, gender, theology and more. Though we are often unwilling to admit it or even consider its implications, the Bride of Christ has too-often acted as isolated limbs that have refused to honor the other parts. Yet as I stood among the thousands that weekend, I watched as leaders and congregants of each of the fractured parts chose to open their eyes and face the sins that they had committed against their brothers and sisters. As eyes were opened, true prayers and acts of repentance were offered to one another. Over the course of 4 or 5 hours, I watched as the launching pad of the next Great Awakening – which we all so desire – was cleared, stone by stone, of the accusations that the Body of Christ had chosen to hold. Then, as if in one moment, the baton that was in the hands of preparation (John the Baptist) was transferred to the hands of awakening (Jesus) as this became our cry – this is the story of awakening, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In the early 80’s, Bob Jones prophesied that one day people would join worship and prayer meetings using “TV’s in their hands and on their wrist watches.” To say that it sounded far-fetched was an understatement. Even in the months before Apple released the iPhone (June 2007), this particular word would have been difficult to visualize. But think of it—a prophet saw the iPhone before Steve Jobs. God had technology in mind when he was designing the global worship movement, and we are living in the days of the fulfillment of this prophetic word.
I watched the Azusa Now from a laptop. As different worship leaders and ministry leaders took the stage, I sent excited messages to friends of mine all over the world while I participated in the prayers and songs.. Some of them were in Washington, Pa. Some of them were in Kansas City. And some of them were in the Los Angeles Coliseum attending the event live. All of us were connected, transcending vast distances with the devices that are common to everyone’s pocket and purse.
That day was altogether different from the two other Call events that I had a chance to be a part of. I was at the very first Call, on the Mall in Washington D.C. , back in 2000. This was years before smart phones, and blogs, and YouTube. Instead, it was just 400,000 people gathered in Washington D.C. to seek the face of God. I rode down on a bus with some friends and a few churches. It was powerful, but to understand it, you kind of had to be there.
In 2007 I was living in Kansas City when I “attended” the Call Nashville via livestream. I spent all day in the main gathering building of the International House of Prayer. We participated in the Call projected on two massive screens in the auditorium. According to the Call’s website, there were 75,000 people in attendance, but who knows how many others joined as I did across America and around the world.
And just a few days ago, on April 9th, I watched from my own home while making deep personal connections to others in real time. Of course, it would have been powerful to have been on the field in the Coliseum, but by no means do I feel as though I missed out. Technology not only has the power to transmit entertainment, but it also has the capacity to connect people to the Holy Spirit.
As the global worship and prayer movement crescendos across the earth, I believe the actual gatherings in stadiums will continue to get larger, but technology will bring the church—in every tribe and tongue— into even greater unity. United with one mind, one heart, and one song, just as Paul prayed in the book of Ephesians (though in ways Paul could never have imagined), the church can now pray the exact same prayer at the exact same time from the ends of the earth. They can change history with the TV’s on their wrist watches.
And we do.