You never know the kind of day you are going to have and live through. You never know if it will be your last day. You just have no idea of the tapestry that makes up your life and your day and how everything is interconnected and nothing happens by chance. There is a pattern being woven by the Master and we are in it as are all the others He is weaving into the pattern. I had no idea what the day would bring, but God was in it in very pronounced ways and did a beautiful thing revealing His heart for Lori and I. By the end of it we knew 2011 was going to be an incredible journey of life and faith in God. We are embracing the journey that has just begun.
I did not expect my last day of 2010 to be the pivotal life transforming day that it became. It is the weirdest day of my life really. I cannot think of a weirder wackier day. It started well enough. I wrote a blog post. I dropped off some books to a friend. Then I had to go and take a package to DHL courier to get a camera repaired. I got in the car and the car would not start. I presumed my daughter had the cell phone, as she always takes it on her trips to Toronto to see her boyfriend.
Fortunately a young man in a Toyota stopped by and offered me his cell to call Roadside Assistance. It was going to take 45 minutes to get a boost, and by then Caitlin would miss her Greyhound bus to Toronto. I did not have her work number to call her. I was a nervous wreck. The young man realized he had jumper cables in the car, and he got my car started. I called Roadside to cancel the boost. I went to Canadian Tire and got my battery changed under warranty.
Then for no reason, I thought of checking the glove compartment. Here was the cell phone. I grabbed it and called my one daughter at home, and then tried my other daughter’s office number. I could not find my daughter. Then I drove around looking for her and found her on the road home standing at a bus stop. She had missed her bus. She would have to wait until 4:15 for the next one.
She was very worried about me and thought I had been in an accident. She then retold me the story of being frantic and calling her mother in Woodstock on the emergency number, and there was little my wife could do. She just said, even if I was in an accident we would all have to wait and hear from the police. My daughter called her sister at our home to see if anyone had called or if I had come home. By this time she was fraighed at the edges. We got to the house and called Lori at her work.
Earlier in the day, Lori, in the morning felt the Lord telling her she would be going to Toronto. She dismissed it and said, “No, I am working in Woodstock and I don’t know if I will be getting out early and besides, Caitlin is taking the bus to Toronto, and there is no need for me to go.” The impression Lori had was that we would be going to Toronto in the evening to TACF to take in a service in anticipation for the New Year and our anticipation for what God is going to do in our lives in 2011.
That was really weird. What made it weirder was that after I took Caitlin out for lunch, and when we got home around 2 pm, we called Lori and she offered to Caitlin that if she got off early, we could drive her to Toronto. Caitlin was pretty happy about that, and she went and got directions from her boyfriend so that we could drive to their house in Vaughan. We prayed for Lori to get off early and a few minutes later she called to let us she was coming home early and then we would be driving to Toronto.
So here we were packed and ready for Lori when she arrived at the house. She got freshened up and then we loaded up and drove off down the 401. In the car Caitlin asked us to pray for the trip down. The car was filled with the Lord’s presence and peace. The boyfriend’s directions were perfect. Combining his directions with Lori’s navigation skills, it was a perfect drive done in record time.
We were invited to visit and stayed an hour and a half and got to meet all the members of the family. We sensed the presence of God in our midst as we visited. There was no awkwardness, and no uneasiness, especially for our first meeting of the family. We truly felt like God used this day to reveal His love and grace and peace to us and that He was over all and in all and especially this situation. It was incredible the grace we felt in this new place and relationship. So we left Caitlin in the care of the family, as she was going to meet some other new people that night and bring in the New Year with them. It was just after 6:10 pm.
So off we went to TACF, not having any idea what we were getting into. It was just obeying the voice of the Lord who had spoken to Lori in the morning. It was minutes from the house in Vaughn, all the way down Highway 7 and Highway 400 and then westbound on the 401 until we got to Dixon Road and then Attwell Drive. It was literally minutes. We got there at 6:35 with plenty of seating room because we were early. The worship band was on the platform practicing. We found a place on the far left to sit down and just relaxed, waiting for whatever God would deliver that night.
There was a conference that night, The Heavy Rain Conference for young adults, and it was the last night of the event, with Chris McClarney leading the worship and Andrew Gazaneo speaking on the subject of “grace”. The worship was wonderful, drawing us into the presence of God, inviting us into a deeper place of adoration and worship. God spoke powerfully through the songs.
It was an amazing encouragement to me, and stimulated my desire and faith for more of God in my life in 2011.
There was a washing over my spirit, a cleansing that took place, and a sense that God was redeeming and restoring things that had been prophesied in the last fifteen years, and also a realization He was setting motion my direction for the foreseeable future and that all was in His hands and that there was nothing to fear: no fear of failure, no fear of the unknown, no fear of thinking that maybe I was done and I had missed my opportunity. It was amazing how gentle and loving the Lord was toward me last night. I am sure many of the several thousand in attendance last night were also in that intimate place of encounter with God. The sweetness of His presence and the gentle touch of the Spirit was a reminder of how in the midst of many God speaks specifically to each one, right where they are, not content to leave them there, but to raise them up to a new deeper place in Him. His love is amazing.
I had this winter scarf around my neck, not crossed over like normal, but just hanging down on each side of my neck and I felt the Lord wanting me to keep that on, even though I had taken off my Bills (NFL) jacket. I was quite comfortable. But in the middle of another worship song, I felt this strong presence of the Lord upon me. There was heat and tingling, all previous manifestations of God’s presence that I have experienced to various degrees in the past. I felt His peace and His love like I have not felt in some time. In that moment there was an awareness of the hand of God upon my life, and I felt like that scarf was the mantle of God upon my life and that I was being given a new authority in my life and that I was turning a corner, leaving the past behind and entering something new. I was overwhelmed as I sat in my chair and I wept and thanked the Lord for what He was doing in restoring areas of my life and re-awakening my calling. It stirred faith and gratitude that he would meet me, a 52 year old man, in the middle of a young adults conference. How awesome is that?!
Then Andrew Gazaneo spoke on grace and it was indeed a powerful message. His key verse was Lori’s Dad’s [my beloved Robert Rolston] favourite life verse 2 Corinthians 9:8.
I realized then and there, as did Lori, that this verse was going to be our verse moving forward in 2011.
The Supremacy of the Son of God
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
To sum up the message on grace, Andrew stated:
Andrew simply stated that because Jesus is all in all and over all, this includes darkness, and all that we attribute to the devil and the demonic. Jesus rules over a defeated enemy, the prince of darkness has no power that is able to defeat or overthrow, and that includes over our own lives. Satan is defeated. Andrew illustrated this by referring to how Allied soldiers in WW2 liberated villages all over the mountanous regions of Italy, it was sometimes weeks after the war was over that these villages, and their German occupyers actually found out that the war was over. Allied soldiers approached Germans and said, “Hey, the war is over. You lost. You have no power here. We are in charge.” That was a powerful illustration of the truth, that the only authority the enemy of our souls has over us, is the authority that we give him. Jesus is above all and in all and rules over all, including darkness and hell.
Then Andrew spoke about the authority of those in authority and spoke about morality being dead. He jolted everybody by saying that when Christians demand that people be moral, there is no room for grace to operate, especially in the public sector. He spoke of the recent election in Toronto for mayor. He read Paul’s words from Romans 13.
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Andrew then stated that we should not so much pray for the placement of morally upright men in government, but rather that whomever God places in a place of ruling authority, Christians should pray for light to pierce the darkness through wise counsel for those who gather around our rulers. He then spoke on Proverbs 25.
4 Remove the dross from the silver,
and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
5 remove wicked officials from the king’s presence,
and his throne will be established through righteousness.
Christians need to pray for the light of Christ to come in power through the wise counsel of those who gather around those people who are placed in authority, so that no matter what the character of those in authority, who have leadership gifts from God, even if they do not recognize the authority of God in their lives, God will be impacted by the righteous ones in their midst.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
Andrew reminded everyone of the coming of Jesus and that darkness cannot overcome His light in the world. Through Christ all things were made and without Him nothing was made that has been made. His light shines in the darkness of our world, even the darkest and bleakest of places and situations.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Andrew addressed how we can only do this through grace, the unmerited favour of God. There is nothing we can earn. It is the free gift of God.
2 Corinthians 9: 8
8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Andrew then reiterated the important verse that was my father-in-law’s favourite. God is able to bless us abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that we need, we will abound in every good work.
We were all encourage to recite this verse publicly in a prophetic declaration. I felt great stirrings in my being as the few thousands of us gathered there all declared these words in faith. Each syllable you felt the word of God coming alive in your being. It was an incredible moment.
We were led in prayer to wind things down before the New Year came in. We had some more intimate worship under the servant leadership of Chris McClarney. Then the hosts of the conference asked students and graduates of the School of Ministry to prepare to pray blessing and words of prophecy through the “fire tunnel”. They set up several tunnels, of two parallel lines where people would walk through and have prayer and blessing and words spoken over them as they went through. Lori and I went through and several important words were spoken over me, for which I am thankful and very encouraged.
Lori and I drove home at 10:30 and got into Waterloo at 11:40 and went to Dominos to get pizza to take home to celebrate the New Year with Erinn and Alex. As we sat in Dominos, the Lord impressed Lori to bless the counter server with ten dollars for the New Year. Lori gave the young man the ten dollars and said, “Happy New Year!” Here again we had God invading our reality encouraging us to bless others in His name. Seeing the look on that young man’s face was incredible. He waved wildly at us as we backed out and drove away. What an incredible way to start 2011.