God’s Got an Army
This past week I was saddened at the news of the passing of evangelist Steve Hill who was best known as the “preacher” for the Brownsville Revival occurring at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola Florida. I had the privilege of hearing him preach during one of the leadership conferences held at the church during the revival. Steve was a fiery, old fashioned gospel preacher whose greatest passion was to preach the gospel to lost sinners. His love and devotion for The Lord was contagious and impacted millions who attended the revival services that lasted for almost 5 years between 1995 and 2000. Steve was a man whom God used greatly during more than 34 years of faithful ministry and I encourage you to listen to one of his sermons entitled “You Can’t Have it”, a message that he preached years ago about the rewards that we may or may not receive when we stand before The Lord on judgement day. You can find the link to his message here.
After hearing about Steve’s death I found some old sermons online and what started out as a few moments of reminiscing ended up being hours of listening to hard core, no compromise preaching. Needless to say the Spirit of God gripped me and wrecked me and I would like to share two things that happened to me this week:
1. All week long I have been burdened for the lost as I have not been for a long time. I became aware again of my cold heart as it pertained to the deep needs of people around me. I found myself breaking down and deeply moved for the needs of others. At first I did not understand what was happening to me, but then it became clearer as the week went on. You see I have been through this before in the past. I believe it happens to everyone who wants to follow The Lord with intensity. Over time our passion for God begins to wane and our deep love for people slowly drains away. Then something happens to shake us up and something breaks on the inside. The only way that God can truly change our lives is when we break! In that brokenness the Spirit of God moves in and regains control.
The only problem is that when you go through these times you may feel like your life is coming to an end. And you would be absolutely correct that is exactly what is happening! Living for self-gets knocked out of the way as God moves into the picture and shifts our eyes towards Himself and others. Once again there is a deep desire to reach out to a broken world and morn over the spiritual condition of lost souls.
2. The second thing that God did this week is remind me that He has an army that he has raised up for this very task. The burden of reaching the lost and hurting is far too great to carry alone. The task must be shared with others who are strong and equipped for the work. Several times This week I found myself singing an old course that I have not heard in a long time:
God’s got an army marching through the land
Deliverance is their song, there is healing in their hands
Everlasting joy and gladness in their hearts
And in this army I’ve got a part!
Oh the wonderful joy that comes in the knowing that you are not alone in the struggle with sin, Satan and self. That we have brothers and sisters that fight alongside of us. This army belongs to God and in this army you and I have a part to play. This past week I heard references to Steve as being a “general” in God’s army. I believe that this accurately describes the position and authority that he held in God’s work here on earth. Steve’s spiritual father was the late David Wilkerson and another mentor was Leonard Ravehhill. Both of these men were considered great men of God in our day. They had a powerful anointing and were used greatly by God, and they had a wide influence within the body of Christ. They were humble and obedient to call of God in their lives.
We all have a part to play, there are only a few generals in any army but there are always many soldiers. Soldiers are the ones who upon receiving orders march forward into battle, “onward Christian soldiers marching as to war”. In 2Timothy we are exhorted by the apostle Paul to be “first class” soldiers of Jesus Christ, enduring hardships and suffering. The Christian life is one of discipline and hard work with a desire to please the commanding officer (2Timothy 2.3-4).
The question has been asked, “How did the revival in Pensacola continue on for so long?” One answer that has widely been considered as accurate is that the city of Pensacola is a military town and that many of the people in the church came from a military back ground. They were accustomed to a respect for authority and following orders. When the leaders of the assembly shared their vision for revival and that they believed that God was going to send revival they pressed into that vision and marched forward with great sacrifice and intensity.
As I prepare to post this blog the service to remember Steve Hill will get under way being held in the very place that he became known, Brownsville Assembly of God. This will doubt be a great gathering of battle toughened solders and faithful servants of God. A time of remembering and reminiscing of the victories and spoils (souls) of war. I believe the occasions of remembering faithful, fallen soldiers are a taste of the celebration that we will experience when we all gather in heaven. What a day that will be when we stand before The Lord and offer him the only thing of value that we will possess – our crowns and rewards from this life of service in His army!
During his long battle with cancer Steve was quoted in Charismanews:
“I’ve never seen such loneliness and despair. People are grasping at anything that will give just a moment of relief. Christ must be offered without apology. This generation of Christians has the greatest opportunity, the most incredible tools and an audience that is craving the hard-core truth,”
“We must burn with the passion of Elijah and have the endurance of the apostle Paul. Trials like the one I’ve been passing through are certain to come. Press on! These are hard times yet these are the best of times. Let’s not let the curtain close without pouring everything we have into this conflict. Victory is certain!”