Saturday, March 28, 2009

Holiness Summit

I went to the mountain top, and God was there. He was waiting for me, wanting to fill the hungering of my soul for more of His Holy Spirit working in my life. From the first song of the first service on Sunday to the last chorus of the last service on Tuesday night, I was continually in the presence of God. Two things happened in each of the nine services. First, we the people worshipped and adored God through the music and prayers we offered unto Him. Then He spoke to us through His servants, each one having a different word of God to deliver to us. Yet everything was so unified, you knew it had been ordered and ordained by God. Anyone who came seeking Him did not go home empty.

Sunday night, Dr. John Boling, President of Olivet Nazarene University, spoke on Romans 7:14-25...the sinful character of man. The struggle within man keeps him from living a victorious Christian life...until he is surrendered to God's Holy Spirit, filled by Him, as Romans 8 talks about. When we are filled by the Holy Spirit, we are then given the freedom from the defeat of sin through the power of living the sanctified life...a life set apart for God's purpose, cleansed from the sin nature, and made holy to live pleasing to God. It is a daily choice we make to walk in the steps of the Master. As we do, we are free from the entanglement of sin. We are enabled to walk in freedom by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday morning 9 a.m. we heard Dr. Mark Quanstrom, Bible Professor at ONU, speak on Romans 8, and our need to consider ourselves Pentecostal Nazarenes and start living the Spirit filled lives. He asked the question, "When did you receive the Holy Spirit?" Most Nazarenes don't know...we aren't preaching about it nor testifying to it. (He was referring to being Pentecostal in that we believe in receiving the fruits of the Spirit rather than the gifts of the Spirit as "Pentecostal" groups today tend to focus on.) I am glad I could tell him afterwards that July 1980 I received the Holy Spirit. I was sanctified. Even though I failed God after that, I sought His forgiveness and adhered to His discipline, and I still claim I was set free from the bondage of sin in July 1980. Very quiet service...Holy Spirit very real...people were listening.

10:45 am speaker was Pastor Mark Fuller from Grove City, Ohio, Church of the Nazarene (one of our largest Nazarene congregations). He spoke from Romans 12:2, and came from a "computer" perspective on holiness. We need to download the new software and delete the old files, and begin to run the new applications. I thought of my computer-geek son as he spoke, wondering how he would react to the sermon. I bought a CD of the sermon for him.

The afternoon session at 1:30 Louie Bustle, Director of World Missions for the Church of the Nazarene, spoke. My parents served with Louie & Ellen Bustle when they first started out in mission work. Bustles were young new missionaries, and Dad and Mom began a program called "Work and Witness" where lay people went to the mission fields to volunteer their services for short periods of time. Dr. Bustle gave us his life story, how he came from an alcoholic home and never even attended church until he was 18. Now today he is director of a world ministry. God can use anyone, from any background, if that person will just surrender his/her life to Him.

Monday night's speaker was General Superintendent Dr. Nina Gunter. She spoke on whether the holiness movement was dead or alive, and the ten characteristics of the holiness movement. There is great concern that if we in the Church of the Nazarene don't get back to believing in holiness and preaching it and teaching it and living it, we will lose the church. It's a real threat, and I believe God is still calling His remnant to get back to the roots of holiness.

Tuesday morning Dr. Frank Moore, Professor in the ONU Bible Department, spoke on Hebrews 4 - God's promise of entering into his rest. The children of Israel didn't go on into the land of promise...they were too afraid of the giants of the land. They didn't trust God. But God wants us to go on into holiness...a place of rest from the sinful bent of human nature where self wants to reign. We can't make it on our own or in our own efforts. Give up the struggle - rest in God.

Dr. Tom Hermiz, from a sister holiness denomination, spoke at the second morning session. His word was from Romans 6 about the power of sin being broken in our lives. Dr. Fairbanks, former president of Mount Vernon Nazarene University, prayed at the beginning of this session. We spoke with him afterwards, and he remembered our son who graduated from Mount Vernon and inquired about him. We had a nice visit. Part of the pleasure of being at the Holiness Summit was seeing former acquaintances.
Tuesday afternoon Howie Schute, the regional director from the Horn of Africa, told amazing stories of the miraculous workings of God in Africa, where people will die for the name of Jesus. It's hard to even relate to what those people go through, their level of commitment. Dr. Schute called the American church to wake up...get serious about the holiness message. Pray for a revival, then draw a circle around yourself and stay in that circle until revival comes. There was a long session of prayer, people at the altar hungry for revival, hungry to be changed. Paul and I had prayer with two of our Michigan District pastors who felt God had special messages for them, and did not want to leave to go back home until it was all over. We all prayed that God would move us to a higher plane, to be more effective for Him.

The final service on Tuesday evening our speaker was General Superintendent Dr. Warrick. He spoke on Acts 4:31 about continuing to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and speaking God's word with boldness. Sanctification is a one-time crisis experience where we surrender completely to God, but then it is a lifetime of continuing to be filled with His Spirit. After the altar response following his preaching, all of the church leaders came forward to be anointed, and they in turn anointed the pastors and ministerial students. We were truly in heavenly places these 2-3 days of the holiness summit. It was hard to go back to where the rubber meets the road...our own fields of service.

The one chorus we sang again and again, and it still rings in my head goes like this:
You deserve the glory
and the honor, Lord,
As we lift our hands in worship
and praise your holy name.
For you are great!
You do miracles so great!
There is no one else like you.
There is no one else like you!
Mike Benson, chaplain at ONU, was the moderator at the summit services. He said the best 8 word sermon he ever heard goes like this:
See Jesus.
See Jesus Run.
Run like Jesus.
That pretty much sums up what this Holiness Summit did for me. I saw Jesus. I saw His holiness. I want to be like Jesus. I went to the Holiness Summit seeking a fresh anointing of God to revive my spirit and to motivate me/empower me for kingdom work. I don't sense a new calling or direction, but simply that I have a better attitude and contentment (less negativity) in what I am currently doing. I need to love people more. I need to reach out to others more. I need to worship God more, and be humble in my spirit.
As I wrote in my journal a couple of days ago...I have a genuine hunger to be like God. In my own self I am frustrated. I want to be perfect like have not only His holy nature, but to love others as He does. I desire His wisdom to make the right choices; His patience so I can endure all things; His mercy so I can overlook the faults of others; but most of all I desire to love as He loves...unconditionally, totally, and completely...seeing the best in others, desiring the best for them. I long to receive His power to boldly proclaim His Word and be a witness for Him everywhere I go. I end this post with the scripture that Louis Bustle signed in his book to me:
Acts 1:8:
But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere -- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

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