Whole Lotta Shaking Going On

Hebrews, chapter 12 has been rather a seminal passage for many of God’s people in recent days.

For a long time, we were focused on verse 7, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children…” and we comforted ourselves that rather than always expecting to be comfortable, God’s children might need to expect to be trained, disciplined.

And more recently, we’ve had our attention drawn to verses 1 and 2, paying attention to the “great cloud of witnesses” that are watching us, and “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Living our lives with heaven in view has been a great focus.

There’s a third part of the chapter that’s capturing my attention. Late in the chapter, the author writes, “now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

I find that my own attention is drawn to these statements from two directions.

First, many of my brothers and sisters are having their lives shaken pretty formidably right now.

I think of filling a container with something that is not liquid (perhaps cereal, or spices, or nuts and bolts). When I’m filling the container, I pour into the new contents into it, until it begins to over flow. And then I shake the container; I might bang it on the counter once or twice. Inevitably, after shaking, there’s more room in the container now, so that I can pour more in. Shaking makes more room in us, to hold more of God, to care more for others, to understand (and experience) more of his kingdom.

I also think of paint. When I buy paint, they add the colorant to make the paint match the architect’s plans. And then they shake it, so that the architect’s influence is permeated throughout the paint, so that everything it touches conforms to the architect’s plans. Shaking makes us more consistent throughout our lives.

And I think of quality control testing. When I build a cabinet, to hold my tools and such, I often pause during construction and shake the cabinet pretty aggressively: I’m testing to see how well it’s been built. If it is going to come apart, I’d rather it did it early in the process – and this is why buildings are earthquake-tested during the design phase – so that I can correct the defects, and have an effective cabinet to hold the tools that I use. Shaking reveals weaknesses, not to draw attention to the, but to correct them.

The second reason my attention is drawn to these verses about shaking is because a number of the prophets I am in relationship with are hearing God use this passage to explain the season we’re in. We’re in a shaking season.

Add 1 Peter 4:17 into the conversation (“For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household…”), another verse that prophetic people have been hearing for a while. We could make a number of inferences about our churches, our culture, and our nation, based on this combination, but that’s not my primary goal here.

The main focus I’m coming away with is this: if you’re following God, you’re either being shaken, or about to be shaken. It’s for your good, it’s to make you more like him. Don’t freak out when it happens. Celebrate your advancement in the Kingdom.

Walking in Authority

The scene was an AA Allen meeting, back in the day. At Allen's tent meetings, he regularly had demons manifesting. So it was his policy to set up a second tent, where his assistants would take the people manifesting demons and get them delivered, out of sight of the main meetings.

One day, the young men had delivered everybody of their demons except one old cuss, whose demon obdurately refused to leave. They tried everything they knew, prayed every prayer they ever heard, quoted every scripture, and still the demon mocked them.

They’d been at it for hours, determined to see this man set free. The main meetings finished, and people left, and still the demon resisted them. They determined to keep at it – all night if need be – until this poor man was free.

Finally, the last car leaving the parking lot stopped by the deliverance tent, and out stepped AA Allen himself. In a glance, he saw what was happening, and walked over to the demoniac. He bent over, and whispered a sentence, and the demon fled, screaming. Allen stood up, and walked back to his car.

The young men were astounded, and one ran up to him. “What did you say? What authority did you use? How did you do that? Why couldn’t we?”

Allen paused. “I said, ‘My name is AA Allen. Now get out!’” and he stepped into the car and drove off.

There’s a reason that we’re told to walk in the authority Father has given us. Some of us handle Father’s authority like it’s precious china, or like it’s an expensive and complicated tool: we must be careful and we must use it exactly right!

And Father is calling us to just walk in the authority: we’re his kids, so of course we carry his authority. It’s not something we do, it’s not about the right words, the right prayers, as if they were incantations.

It’s about us being his beloved children: we speak and we don’t even need to mention his name: all of heaven and all of hell already knows that when we speak, we’re speaking in his name.

Help Discerning the Move of God

God’s people have been rebuked with a couple of phrases plucked out of the Bible more times than I care to recount: “Decently and in order, Brother! God is not a God of disorder, but of order. You need to settle down.”

I have to keep reminding myself that Acts 2 - where people are accused of being drunk - is God's idea of “decently and in order.”

And evidently Hannah was “in order” when she went to Shiloh to ask the Lord for a child; she certainly found favor and Samuel was born to her. But she also was mistaken for a drunk, by Eli the priest, the one man who was most qualified to be able to recognize the workings of God in His people at the time.

Do you remember David’s wife Michal when David danced before the Lord?

Apparently there is a long history of religious people mistaking spiritual passion (or being influenced by God's Spirit) for drunkenness. Also apparent is the fact that they’re often wrong when trying to identify what is God moving on his people, and what is the flesh at work.

We could also discuss more recent events: Azusa StreetTorontoBrownsville, and others, and we’d find the trend continuing. I cannot tell you how many times I was warned that “God is not in that disorder!”

I was warned by my pastor to stay away from such places: “You never know what a crowd of emotional people will do! They’re out of control! It could be dangerous!”

This leads me to an awkward, even politically incorrect conclusion: when God is doing something with me, particularly when it’s something that seems strange to me, there is evidence to suggest that my church leaders may not be the best people to ask for help understanding it.

If their job is maintaining the organization of a Sunday morning fellowship, they have a vested interest in not rocking the boat. They have a vested interest in people not being “out of control” in their experience of God. It’s real difficult to condone your experience, if your experience creates ripples among others in the congregation. A few pastors can do it.

It may be better to ask Father to show you himself, what has happened in your life. It will also be good to ask him to introduce you to others who have had a similar experience, perhaps some who can help you understand.

Are there dangers? Are there freaky people out there? Sure there are. Welcome to the deep end of the pool. Eat the meat and spit out the bones.

As Jesus’ best friend wrote: “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27) This is not just theory. This is the Word of God instructing you about how to be instructed. This is the real thing.

This is why we follow God. This is also why we don’t follow people who follow God, but we walk alongside them. 

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