My last college roommate, Donny and I got saved around the same time. After being saved he began fellowshipping at a Baptist church and invited me to join him for a service. I went and enjoyed the solid salvation message that is common to Baptist doctrine.
Around the same time the man that had led me to the Lord invited me to attend a Pentecostal Bible study. Well, guess what? I brought my roommate with me. Like me, he enjoyed the Word but was uncomfortable with the Pentecostal exuberance and that funny language they called tongues. I was not uncomfortable at all but rather intrigued by it. I saw it laid out in the Word but Donny couldn’t see it.
The more he associated with non-Pentecostal people who criticized tongues the farther away he got from being open and teachable to accepting and receiving the baptism in the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. The big lesson here is that our associations can hinder or help us in receiving all God has for us in our Christian lives. I was a witness of this early on in my walk with the Lord.
Shortly thereafter I was baptized in the Holy Ghost and began speaking in other tongues regularly and have enjoyed that free flowing stream of blessing, revelation, and power in my life since those early days. My friend Donny went in the opposite direction and to my knowledge has never been filled with the Holy Ghost.
About 18 months later when I chose to obey God’s calling on my life to attend Rhema Bible Training Center. The folks in the area I lived warned me of associating myself with those “name and claim it” prosperity preachers. On the inside I knew those folks were mistaken and only seeing things through the small lens of the environment they were in. They were seeing the dirty bath water but I saw the baby. I also knew that most of them would never grow spiritually beyond a certain point because of their associations.
While I was at Bible school I received an impartation from the late Kenneth E. Hagin – an impartation of a spirit of faith, boldness, and the supernatural. I learned great foundational truths on the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, healing, love, prayer, the authority of the believer, and many redemptive realities. I caught a wave of the supernatural that launched me into fruitful ministry.
In Bible school one of our first special speakers we had was the late Dr. Lester Sumrall. He was 70 years old at that time and he told the students how the Lord had allowed him to be in every major move of God throughout his life. He went on to explain how every move of God is like a wave out at sea. Every wave has an end and most Christians will ride one wave into the seashore until they dry up.
Dr. Sumrall compared many Christians’ lives to denominations that were birthed in revival but then dried up. He told us that as soon as a wave heads into the seashore you should be looking for the next one to jump on.
He even explained to us how he’d lost close friendships over these issues because some chose to stay on the same wave or denomination which eventually dried up while he kept moving on with God. Once again, associations are one of the greatest influences that determine a person’s spiritual level in God.
I totally grasped this wisdom and received it right there and then and prayed that the Lord would keep me in the center of all he was doing on the earth. After graduating from Bible school God sent me overseas as a missionary. Who would’ve known that once again Dr. Sumrall would be one of our first special speakers on the mission field at our annual Bible school convention and graduation ceremony?
While there he told us that this was one of the greatest moves of God he’d ever witnessed in all his years of ministry. I was surprised and wondered why he said that concerning our team and the ministry we planted there under the leadership of the late Russ Tatro. He said it was because he’d never seen so many denominations under one roof. He called that a great move of God. Our Bible schools had students from nearly every denomination in the country. We were in the middle of that move and didn’t even realize how great it was.
Then my wife and I moved to a Muslim country to pioneer another work. A resident pastor in this country told me if we started a Bible school there we might have 10 students. That discouraged me at first, but we had learned to pray and to walk in faith and obedience. We started with 200 students and the ministry prospered. The door to the gospel was closing in that nation, but God kicked it open through our labors in the Lord. We and our national team rode that wave for many years in that nation before the Lord sent us back to America.
In America I received a call to be a part of another great wave of revival that mounted up in Pensacola, Florida, which became known as the Brownsville Revival. Some were not too sure about this wave either as it received heavy criticism from denominations. Even some of my Rhema friends were concerned about it because it was a different wave than what they were used to. But we knew it was God and we rode it and enjoyed it while it lasted. Four million visitors came from around the world and 150,000 first time salvations were recorded. We were privileged to train and equip many who came from around the world to be there.
Many who were a part of that move are longing for the past and praying for another wave like that. But no two waves are the same. Don’t try and imitate what the Lord did in the past, but be engaged in what He is doing now.
God is always moving. Too many are moving in learned behaviors that have become a form – shaking, noises they make, things they do, and various manifestations that were a part of a past outpouring, but have lost their anointing.
Smith Wigglesworth said, “I have revival everywhere I go because I live full.” This is what Christians must understand. God’s plan under the new covenant is for every believer to live a Spirit-filled life. You cannot do that without being baptized in the Holy Ghost and speaking in new tongues.
Go back to the beginning of this article. What would’ve happened if I decided to side in with my friend Donny and his associations and resist the baptism of the Holy Ghost? I would’ve never been privileged to ride the waves I’ve ridden all these many years of ministry. Two different choices resulted in two very different destinies. I rejoice that my friend Donny is saved and probably still loves the Lord today, but how different it would’ve been for him had he embraced and received the baptism in the Holy Ghost?
Every man has as much of God as He wants. Your associations will either put something in you or take it out of you. They will make you better or worse. They will lift you up higher in God or try and keep you at or below their level. Most will attempt to create your world for you, and they will always make it too small.
Move with God, believer! Who cares what your best friend says? You are not accountable him but to God. Who cares what your favorite preacher says? I know many good preachers and theologians who know little to nothing about the Holy Ghost and moving with God in the supernatural.
What will my church think? Who cares what your dead church thinks? If it’s dead it stinks. Your church may even have started in revival, but perhaps is now only an empty shell of what it once was – a monument memorializing the past. Jesus said, “Let the dead bury the dead.” You go on and move with God.
Move with God preacher! Who cares what your dead church members say? Who cares what your peers think? It’s better to obey God than man. Who cares about the church’s traditions that contradict the Word of God? Who cares what your denominational authorities say? If you know it’s God flow with it! He will bless you for your obedience and take care of you.
If you don’t know how to move with God it is time to associate with those who do.