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  • Writer's pictureDoug Burroughs

Revisiting the Wild Side of God

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.” - C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe"

When I first met Jesus as a young man, I had already grown up in the church and seen many miracles. I watched my dad, who had severe back pains which left him on the couch in pain, get prayed for by a man whose full name escapes me now, pray for his back and his legs grew out...on live TV! Many cynics call this a parlor trick (I can assure you it is not, I've seen this happen close to a hundred times under my own hand and it is way beyond anything I could do or manipulate), but I watched my dad return home and be completely changed forever by this healing. This was one of many miraculous things that I grew up around and still found my way into failure and sin.

Raw power was headed my way and I was unprepared for it, woefully unprepared.

The problem was that I grew civilized, refined, complacent. Even when I wasn't in active rebellion, I was irresponsibly religious in my action and attitudes to those around me. I felt that a relationship with God, you know, the One true God, the One who spoke reality into being and created life by fiat, the One who destroyed the false gods of Egypt in a showdown of the ages, who answered by fire, split a sea in half, raised Jesus from the dead, and will judge, separating the sheep and the goats, could be known though academic excellence and a proper prayer life filed with words and a little bit of passion.

I was set up for a rude shock.

Raw power was headed my way and I was unprepared for it, woefully unprepared.

You see, at this stage in my life I was a religious cynic. If people had a problem, they should buck up and act right, none of this inner healing and demon stuff. Most problems were in their lack of discipline, not in their lack of passionate discipleship.

I didn't like messy. I liked neat and orderly. I liked predictable, and the youth group I led at the time of 100 kids, suffered for it.

Their bodies weren't getting healed. Their sins went underground. Malevolent forces known as demons went unchecked in their lives. I wanted Jesus. What I had was a well kept museum being led by a lifeless curator, me.

However, God is good, but He is not tame.

I remember the weeks leading up to the night. I knew something was wrong. I knew we were not experiencing all God had for us. I thought a well placed slide show (don't laugh, it had multiple projectors and was cutting edge in early 1984) would stir them through pathos. I invited an 70 year old missionary lady who I knew from experience had walked with success on the wild side of God to speak to 13-18 year olds (told you I knew it was imperative I change). The final week, I invited a fellow student who attended a church down in Orange County, to bring his small group (Kinship group they called it) to minister to us.

That night about 70 kids showed up. We gathered for prayer before the youth group got there. In a small room I led a prayer and prayed the most amazing verbiage, empty, un-engaging prayer ever, with no response from this small group whatsoever! I had been using my own efforts to lead people, so it was a shock to me that these guys were completely unmoved by my words.

They had their eyes on a different target.

They quietly waited on God and then invited Him to show up, language I wasn't used to. We then went out and worshiped for a few songs. I invited the leader of the meeting to speak.

He was not good.

I am not exaggerating. He was awful and not used to speaking to larger groups. I remember thinking, "Oh man, I thought we were building towards something, but we are ending in a whimper." Me, Mr. Bible Scholar had forgotten these scriptures, "My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power..." (1 Corinthians 2:4), and Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

I was a typical creature of the West and wanted persuasive speech. That's what I thought moved men's hearts. I was so wrong.

"I want everyone under the age of twenty to come forward", he said, leaving myself and a couple of the team on the outskirts looking on. He then said, "The Holy Spirit has been grieved for a while here, but He is getting over it. Holy Spirit, come!" were his next words. I found out later that he had parroted these words from a guy that had been to their church and had released an incredible move of God. (See the end of the article for a video recalling that experience.) While I was weighing these words in my minuscule theology, for our theology is shaped by the verses we remember, not all the verses in the book, the Holy Spirit, the One who comes as a Rushing, Mighty Wind began to move in the room and He started with the kids I thought was beyond help. In a matter of seconds, this young man was shaking, crying, then convulsing in his sobbing and being set free from a young life of addictions. Then the person near him responded and it went on and on.

These kids had only heard the stories of this kind of move, they had never experienced it. The God we taught them to serve was safe, predictable, never "out of order". Here, they were experiencing a God who was alive, free, and dare I say it, wild.

One by one, they were all affected. They were turned on to Jesus. They became insatiate by His active, living presence. They were no longer serving and loving a concept, they were in love and in partnership with a divine Person.

After a little while, the leaders of the small group said, let's pray for Doug. I had an immediate panic attack. I had stuff in my life, deeds, actions, thoughts, and agendas. Lots of stuff. I realized that everything was on the table. I was no longer a person looking on and giving approval, I was an active participant with this good and wild God.

Here, they were experiencing a God who was alive, free, and dare I say it, wild.

I will relate soon what happened to me that night, but suffice it to say, it permanently ruined me for the ordinary. God undid years of shame, training, well kept boxes, and theological constrictions in a moment. Everything changed. I read and studied the scriptures differently. I practiced Christianity differently. It delightfully ruined me.

Why am I saying all this?

I am feeling a watershed moment for us coming out of lockdown. It began a few months ago, and it has been accelerating, bit by bit, and I sense that we are coming up on a catalytic season. Our city and especially around the colleges and high schools, have been saturated in fear of this virus. God is moving to save people from the grip of this tyrannical hold. Many of us have been feeling a pull for evangelism, so we have begun releasing a prayer team led by Lori Watson to go as an expeditionary force into the city to pray. Evangelism is coming, the people are being prepared and the atmosphere is shifting. I also sense that God wants to pour out His Spirit in some unprecedented, wild ways among us.

When I say, "Press into Him", I am asking people to surrender their preconceived notions, surrender their safe boxes, and move, even physically into what God is doing. One of the things we learned early in moving with the wild, good God on was this:

There is real benefit when we isolate from our lives for a few days and focus solely and preeminently on Him.

That is why we are hosting Firefall '21. We want to extend our weekend into His presence, to experience Him in His goodness and His wildness, to become cultured by Him, and receive what He has for us in anticipation of what is about to happen all over the earth - a new, fresh move of revival to sweep people into life in Jesus!

I urge you, make whatever adjustments you need to. Make room in your life for this weekend. The more you give into it, the more you will receive.

There is real benefit when we isolate from our lives for a few days and focus solely and preeminently on Him.

I am not after numbers. If it is just myself and David and Narelle, I will have an amazing time worshiping, listening and receiving. I want you to hear my heart: I really want you to be a part of this and experience what an extended time of seeking Him looks and feels like.

All of us will be different in good ways after this weekend. Some of us will be ruined for the ordinary. There is more.

It is time to use the phrase from Rocky III that Bill Johnson has been saying to "get back into the old gym". It is time to "fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6). Why does God show His wildness? Because, He reminds of the very next verse in Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7).

Read that again.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

The fear people are sensing is not from God.

The goal is to see what we have been given, a spirit of power , of love and a sound mind.

The means to get there is to fan into flames the gift.

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2:1-4

Get it now? Firefall. Extended times in His presence. Fan into flame the gift. Some need the gift. Some need to revive the gift.

It's all waiting for you.

He is not "safe". He is good. He is the King. He loves you and is awaiting your presence at His table.

You never be the same and you won't be sorry.

Some Extras for Fun

The Holy Spirit Comes to the Vineyard - Mother's Day

How To Receive the Holy Spirit

What to do after being filled with the Holy Spirit


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