A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Dr David Cartledge wrote as President of the Southern Cross Bible College and an Assemblies of God National Executive member.

Article in Renewal Journal 7: Blessing as on Amazon and Kindle and The Book Depository
Also in Renewal Journals bound volume 2 (Issues 6-10)

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people have been wonderfully changed

and drawn into a deeper consecration to the Lord

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In November 1994 I was dramatically confronted by the power of God during ministry to a line of people who had come for prayer at Southside Assembly in Brisbane. About two thirds of the way along the line I reached my hand out over a lady on the floor to pray for her. She had been powerfully prostrated before anyone had prayed for her or touched her. As I reached out over her I was suddenly immobilised, unable to move or speak.

Incredible personal experience

I was not aware of any passage of time and thought that this was just momentary before crumpling to the floor. While on the floor I was still unable to move in any way. I could not open my eyelids or speak or move my hands at all. The pastor and congregation were concerned and mystified, and called a nurse to take my pulse and check if I was still alive!

After a while I became afraid, wondering what was happening to me. ‘What has gone wrong. What is happening to me, Lord?’ I cried out in my mind since there was no voice to speak with. He answered me straightaway, ‘I just want you to see what I can do if I can get you out of the way.’

This overwhelming and uncomfortable experience was to get my attention and become the beginning of a process which has turned my heart towards the Lord in simplicity and sincerity more than ever before in my life.

The pastor later told me that when I reached out to pray for the lady on the floor I was instantly frozen like a statue for about fifteen minutes. Then I was violently thrown backwards through the air landing feet away from where I had been standing, and was paralysed for more than another hour. It was after 11 p.m. when that manifestation of the power of God lifted enough for me to sit up. There was an awesome sense of the presence of God in the room and we worshipped until midnight.

‘Burning Bush’ Confrontations

Through the rest of the weekend the power of God broke out in astonishing ways. There were manifestations of God’s glory and power which I had not been familiar with. The majority of those coming for prayer were powerfully prostrated. No one had hands laid on them and most times these people fell to the floor without anyone catching them. Many were crying and some were overcome with holy laughter. The senior pastor was so under the power of God that he could only be described as drunk in the Spirit.

The next weekend I was due to minister at Westside Assembly in Adelaide and once again the power of God broke out in the meetings in ways that astonished us all. The senior pastor was so powerfully touched by the Spirit that he was unable to drive home. Many were weeping, laughing and falling to the floor before they were prayed for. The reports since that time are of people who have been wonderfully changed, and have been drawn into a deeper consecration to the Lord.

These two amazing weekends had an even greater effect on Marie and me. We felt that we had been confronted by a ‘burning bush’ and, like Moses, needed to turn aside to see this great sight.

Pressing In

During December we travelled to Toronto and spent a week at the Airport Vineyard Church where multitudes have been wonderfully touched by the Spirit since January 1994. In one year more than 100,000 people have attended these meetings which have been conducted every night since then except Mondays.

It was challenging and impacting to see about 1,500 people each night pressing in for a visitation of God. The intense spiritual hunger amazed me. Hundreds stood outside the auditorium for up to two hours before the service started, to get a seat. Every night the temperature was below freezing and some nights it went as low as minus 21 degrees!

Although there were many things occurring in these meetings which were unusual and hard to explain we were mightily touched by the Spirit of the Lord, and our desire for a closer relationship with him was intensified during this week.

Early in January we travelled to Florida to attend the Rodney Howard-Browne camp meeting held in the 10,000 seat Carpenter’s Home Church in Lakeland, pastored by Karl Strader. The camp meeting had taken up all the hotel facilities within the Lakeland area. Even though we had booked more than six weeks before, the closest motel we could get was 24 miles away. There were registrants from 49 US states and 32 foreign countries. No amount of words will do justice in reporting what we were to experience!

Manifested glory of God

We arrived at 5 p.m., two hours early for the Monday evening service and found it hard to get a seat. There were about 2,000 present as soon as the doors opened at 6 p.m. and by the time the service commenced at 7 p.m. the ground floor was filled with around 7,000 people. The worship was wonderful and there was an immediate and tangible sense of the presence of the Lord.

In his first message, Rodney declared that in the last days the supernatural will become normal and natural, that it is not normal for Christians to be miserable, joyless and depressed. At this point great waves of glory began to sweep over the congregation. There was a long period of people standing during the sermon and shouting to God. The atmosphere was electric with the presence of the Lord.

Rodney said that many have mocked and characterised these meetings as the ‘laughing revival’ and have missed the boat. Every genuine revival has had a stone of offence – God provides a reason for people who want to find fault with what he is doing so they can salve their conscience in resisting him. While many are laughing, just as many are quiet or weeping. The real object is the manifested glory of God.

Awesome power and presence of God

There had been no altar ministry yet and we were still in the middle of receiving the preaching. There was an incredible sense of God’s awesome power and presence. I have seen just about every possible manifestation before but had never been in a meeting remotely like this.

Rodney said that the majority of Pentecostals and charismatics had been baptised with the Spirit and had spoken in tongues, but now that is all they can do. And they do this by habit, and mechanically without impact on their lives. They know nothing about ‘yielding’ to the Spirit.

While he was speaking both the lady camera operator on the platform and one of the musicians went out under the power. He was not anywhere near either of them. They were just overcome through the preaching and fell to the floor.

In every evening service he gave a very strong, tenacious, specific and long altar call for salvation and restoration of backsliders. He was very bold and authoritative and every time there was a huge response.

No substitute

The manifestation of the Spirit in the meetings were quite incredible. There were many laughing in the Spirit with supernatural joy, but probably as many were weeping or struck with a holy quietness in the middle of the noise. There were large numbers falling under the power of God, most of whom were not prayed for or touched by anyone. Often people would fall out of their seats during the preaching or other ministry and be prostrate on the floor for the rest of the service and sometimes for hours afterwards.

One of the most common manifestations we observed was to be so overcome by the Spirit that it both felt and looked like drunkenness. Often it was hard to stand or walk. On one occasion it was impossible for me to drive the car, and Marie had to be supported to the car at another time. We both experienced holy laughter and strong bouts of holy weeping, but in it all the dominant feature was a renewed love for the Lord and his Word as well as a stronger desire for prayer and to be continually in his presence more than ever before in our lives.

There is no substitute for this glory and anointing. We have been robbed so long by ‘safe’ and ‘sterile’ Pentecost which can only deliver words of human wisdom, but does not know anything about the demonstration of the Holy Spirit. During these incredible meetings we felt that we were being drawn out to where we can never return. We decided to cross the line for the new wine and to drink so deeply of the Spirit that he would have full control of our lives.

There were many times during this week when Rodney could not continue to preach and was immobile and speechless behind the podium for a long time. I was impressed with his commitment to allow the Holy Spirit complete freedom in the services and to wait on him until he was sure of the direction the meeting was to take when anything out of the ordinary began to occur.

Glorious vision for Australia

One evening he invited all the international visitors to come for prayer and some of the Australian group stood together to pray for our country. As soon as he touched us we all fell to the floor. Not once during this week was there the slightest suggestion of anyone pushing people over in any of these meetings. Marie was totally overcome with the joy of the Lord, however I was totally silent and felt closed in with God. After a while I was aware that I was seeing something clearly.

It was as though I was up in the sky looking down and saw land wreathed in thick fog. As I peered into the fog I recognised that it was the coastline of Australia. There were some places where the fog was not so dense but it was still persistent and many years old. I could see through it over Brisbane, parts of Queensland and Adelaide. The thickest fog was over Sydney which was almost black in density. Canberra and Tasmania and some parts of the inland regions and centre of the country were also very dense. Melbourne seemed to have equally dense fog over it but it was a different colour, like the thick smoke from bushfires and it was swirling around. I am still not sure what this means.

As I watched in the vision a small swirling wind like a cone (an upside down tornado) began in the sky high over Sydney and kept increasing in intensity and size as it descended closer to the earth. Soon the base of the cone was covering all of the greater region and the fog was sucked up by this swirling tornado and the entire Sydney region was cleared of fog. Then all of the fog from every part of Australia began to be sucked up into this vortex of power and was destroyed. Strangely, the fog from some of the areas further away from Sydney seemed to be drawn into the vortex before that, covering areas closer to Sydney. As soon as all of the fog was gone, intensely bright sunshine began to shine on the entire country.

The sunshine was so bright that in the vision it was painful to my eyes and I was squinting to be able to endure this intense light. As the light struck the country, Australia began to radiate like a glorious jewel and flashes of coloured rays began shooting out from the country all over the rest of the world which for the most part seemed to be in darkness. Wherever those beams of reflected and radiating glory touched other nations great swathes of permanent light were cut through the darkness.

This vision has not left me since and I believe that I was seeing the fulfilment of the prophetic promises that Australia is to be the ‘Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.’ I do not think anyone has comprehended the glory that God intends for this entire nation. I cannot any longer settle for a little program which merely addresses the peripheral problems of our land. It is not just more churches we need but the manifested glory of God. More religion or more of the same may only deepen the fog.

Jesus must be exalted

During that week Rodney challenged those people who just come to his meetings to ‘laugh and roll on the floor’ but do not allow the Holy Spirit to change them. He said the entire purpose of this move of God is change. He called these people ‘drug addicts’ looking for their next fix of spiritual cocaine. Unless they accept change and never be the same again they miss the whole point. He specifically targeted smoking, drinking, cursing and immorality. He said that there are some ministers who think they have a free pass and do not have to live to the same standards as they preach. They freely indulge in the 17 works of the flesh instead of the 9-fold fruit of the Spirit.

He also took issue just as strongly with many of the religious routines that the church has substituted for the genuine work of the Spirit of God, and with pharisaical preachers who resist the work of the Holy Spirit of God in their own lives and in the churches they control.

The ministry was strongly exalting Christ, especially in the emphasis of the worship and ministry as well as the incredible results of a renewed relationship with Jesus and a deeper desire for holy living which was evidenced in everyone I spoke to during that week of divine visitation. The yielding to the Holy Spirit certainly produced what Jesus in John 16:13-14 (NKJV) said it would: ‘When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will take of what is mine and declare it to you.’ I have never seen or experienced any ministry which caused such a desire for Christlikeness or confronted bondage and brought about deep and genuine repentance in so many people.

Let the waves of glory roll on!

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(c) The Australian Evangel, May 1995, pages 33-35, PO Box 336, Mitcham, Victoria, 3132.  Used with permission.

© Renewal Journal 7: Blessing, 1996, 2nd edition 2011
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included.

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