The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”John 3:8 (NKJV)
In every move of God down through the generations, men have tried to capture and institutionalize what God was doing. Like Peter on the Mount of transfiguration, they wanted to set up camp around a moment rather than follow the Master. Jesus did not stay on the mountain but proceeded on to the cross, passed through the tomb, and rose victorious over death, hell, and the grave.
Still, Jesus did not stop, nor has He ever ceased to move. He ascended, sat down, and has been moving throughout history through His body, the Church. One cannot circle the wagons around any one expression of God’s power and contain Him. The Spirit of God is like the wind and cannot be contained. However, we can set our sail and harness His power as we catch the current of what He is doing in our time. There is nothing quite like riding the wave of God’s power. However, waves do not last forever. The skilled surfer rides it into shore and casts his gaze to the horizon to see what is coming next. Like the sons of Issachar, we need to be men who have “understanding of the times” so that we might recognize what God is doing in our time (see 1 Chronicles 12:32).
Those who have set up shop around a single expression of God’s presence and power often find themselves in opposition to the next thing God does since they have built their careers, reputations, and ministries on a particular expression of God’s presence. Even in the twentieth century, as one move of God after another visited the earth: Azusa, the Healing revival of the 50’s, the Charismatic Renewal, etc., those who enjoyed God’s power in one season often found it difficult transitioning away from the familiar ground of the present move into the next. In the light of this, the Lord once said to me, “It’s better to be a private in what I’m doing than a general in what I did.” If God cannot find those who have walked with him in passed moves to lead His people into the next, He will go outside the institutions men have made to find a bug-eating, camel-skin wearing prophet, a shepherd boy, or a scared farmer threshing wheat in a winepress to lead His people to triumph. It’s just like God to do that.
While we might prize our education, institutions, and the vast resources our organizations have amassed, Church history is full of stories of God moving outside all of that to raise up a hungry group of people whose only source of inspiration were the pages of the book of Acts. Sadly, it was often those powerful institutions which persecuted those hungry for a fresh expression of God’s power. Today, we are seeing unprecedented miracles around the world in nations like Iran, Pakistan, China, and all over the global south, yet, unbelievably, there are those who still hold to the tired, worn, and powerless idea that the day of miracles has passed. Rather, what has passed is the relevance of the old wineskins such faithless believers are still trying to twist to wring out one last drop of life.
If it sounds like I’m against denominations, I’m not. I just don’t believe God ever started one. God starts movements as hungry men risk everything to follow His direction, even when it goes against the conventional wisdom of established Church leadership. Movements do not care about by-laws, forms of order, or denominational hierarchy. They are free of all such earthly limitations and are more often than not found by the riverside rather than in the temple. Men try to saddle and ride them to the shed where they can be stabled, returning again to the barn to find only bit and bridle while the wild thing they’ve tried to contain has broken its bonds and is riding free. “Aslan is not a tame lion,” as C.S. Lewis would tell us, and the and bright wind of the Spirit of God cannot be contained any more than the sun can be reversed in its course. We can cooperate with God, but we cannot control Him. Why in the world would we try?
There is nothing wrong with structure. Paul gives us guidelines for the operation of spiritual gifts. However, they are not for the purpose of bringing God into order but ourselves! Also, scriptural guidelines speak with authority to the Church while the viewpoints of prominent leaders, while they are to be respected, do not carry the same weight. I appreciate and venerate the Church Fathers, but I follow the scripture. Even good men have missed the signposts of change and failed to recognize the hand of God moving outside their cloistered walls.
Very often, these moves of God have gone out of their bounds like a raging river at floodtide due to the misguided reactions of men, and to be sure there have been times when wildfire (to mix my metaphors) has scorched and burned rather than warmed and revived. Even the best of revivals have had their casualties. However, if we are not at times willing to risk the wildfire, we may find that we are left cold in the safety of dead institutions with little or nothing left to fight off the chill of encroaching darkness. Indeed, there are sad moments in history when these institutions became the darkness itself, having long left behind the Spirit that one animated a now cold, dead religious corpse.
There is ever a fresh wind blowing, and no organization need feel trapped behind man-made borders when the Spirit moves beyond them. Old wineskins can be renewed, and any denomination can experience a new birth or fruitfulness if they are willing to break camp and follow the cloud. We have His Word as our plumb line and His Spirit to lead us. Besides this, there are good, seasoned men among us who have learned to move from wave to wave and can help us to recognize when He is on the move in our midst. God always works through leaders, whether ordained by institutions or called from the wilderness.
With hearts hungry for His presence and power and a world to win, we cannot fail to hoist our sails aloft to catch the fresh and living wind of His Spirit in this hour. There is a world to reach and daylight is quickly failing. As the Master said so must we also say, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of Connecting Point Church, located at 409 Center Street in Taft, California, as well as the founder of Connecting Point Communications. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, The Good, The Beautiful And The True. For more information, go to randylanebunch.org. For more information on the ministries of Connecting Point Church, you can go to the ministry’s website at connectingpc.org.