We have begun to see a prophetic anointing on praise and worship. Tradition is very strong in that area. Many churches have been delivered from the hymnbook but are now stuck on transparencies. Some are still at the mercy of the machine that throws lyrics onto the wall or to a certain systematic song order.
The old songs were not the problem. “Religion” had crept in through routinely singing the same old way in the flesh. The newness of the songs fooled us. Because they were fresh, we could really get involved singing them. But new songs are not a substitute for the Holy Spirit ‘s anointing, nor are they a sure sign of it. New songs or old songs, it is the spirit in which we sing them that counts.
Some churches have set their entire congregation backwards because of the songs they sang before the message. The ministers leave frustrated because they can’t understand why the people couldn’t grasp what they delivered to them. The song service left the people stagnant and crusty, making it difficult to receive the full impact of the message. We need to quit holding on to something because we are comfortable with it and move out with the timing of the Spirit.
Sometimes, simple obedience will change the flow. I was scheduled to speak at a certain church one Mother s Day. Usually, I have a word or a stirring in my spirit, but I could not get anything for that particular service. Before I left for the church, I looked up scriptures about mothers, and none of them were anointed to me. I walked into the pastor’s office and said, “Pastor, I don’t have anything for mothers today.”
He said, “That’s good because I preached about that last week.”
I thought, Hallelujah! I dorit have to worry about that But then the real problem came—I did not know what to preach. So I said, “I’ll just go by faith.”
The music started and they were singing the usual Charismatic/Word-Faith songs. I was being nice and preferring my brethren, being very sweet and respectful, but then the Lord said to me, “I want you to dance.” So I began dancing very easily, when the Lord said, “No, no, no!”
I said, “Well, what do You want then?” He said, “I want the old combined with the new.” I said, “Oh. You mean, don’t ‘wiggle’ but DANCE.” And He said, “Yes.”
Now I am coming out of tradition as fast as I can, but I have to admit there is a little bit left. I am further than some people, but there are still things I am dealing with. I said, “But Lord, it’s Mother’s Day! Everyone is wearing flowers.” I knew God was going to do a work in that place, but I also knew that everyone was dressed up with flowers pinned to their dresses, and with visitors there, no one wanted to sweat—after all, it was Mother’s Day!
But when the Lord says “dance” to me, that does not mean your normal two-step. That means DANCE. When I dance, I get into it all over. I am everywhere. Well, I started to dance.
On the way up into the spirit realm, you have to fight demons, whether it is through prayer or praise and worship. Half of the front row went with me. A member of my staff also moved with me. As soon as I began to really dance, I was in a fight. It was not one of those bringing-down-the-glory dances, it was a we-are-going-to-win dance. There was a controlling spirit dominating that church and God wanted them set free.
Sometimes we get into places that we know very little about. We must know the accurate timing of God in order to move correctly with what the Spirit of God intends to do. We were singing a praise song full of zeal, and the atmosphere was being flooded with the praises of the people when suddenly the musicians started to change over to a worship song. It was not the time to move from a praise song into a quiet, worship song. The unction was strong in me, and I said, “Don’t do it! Go back to that other song and let’s sing it some more.” We went back to the first song, and people all over the building began to enter in with us except the musicians. Because they hadn’t been sensitive to the timing of God, they remained startled that their systematic order changed. They were trying to be nice and sweet. The Holy Spirit wanted to move among the people, but the musicians weren’t cooperating.
I finally moved over and stood right in the middle of the instrumentalists. They looked petrified, but I kept telling them, “Play with force! Play with force!” Finally, they hit it with force. For two and a half hours, we sang, danced, and sweated, and that controlling spirit came down that day. That church was set free.
The service was noisy, yet decent and in order. What most people call “decently and in order” means organizing the Holy Spirit out, but that’s not it at all. Freedom to that church did not come by preaching or prophesying. Freedom came by being sensitive to God’s chosen way for the hour. It came to them by allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work, and it came by the minstrel and the dance.
We must be careful not to learn from a “system.” We must learn from the unction, or we become religious. God wants us to move under His unction, not by performance or by “working things up” through emotion and the flesh.
Some musicians and song leaders sing and play out of their heads only and are not sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Many of their gifts are being aborted, because they choose to operate completely in the flesh through intellect and organization. It is so sad to see a worship leader in bondage to a system.
I do not know music, but I do know how to lead praise and worship in the Spirit. At times an anointing, an unction, comes on me for those things. I must hear the timing of God in each service in which I minister. We must learn to operate from that unction, for it will lead to godly results every time.
God’s Word has a lot to say about living a holy and righteous life. If you truly hunger after the things of the Spirit of God, you will desire to live a holy life.
Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endurethfor ever.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
It is God’s desire that we be “perfect” in Him.
Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. —Deuteronomy 18:13
God speaks to us about letting the light of Christ radiate through us.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.
The kingdom of heaven is prepared for the holy.
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
—1 Corinthians 6:9-11
God tells us to be active in avoiding sin:
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
—1 Corinthians 6:17-20
God spoke through Paul saying, “Awake to righteousness.” That is a command, not an option!
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
—1 Corinthians 15:34
Paul continued to write on the theme of holy living in his letter to the church at Galatia.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap
corruption; but he that soiveth to the Spirit shall of the
Spirit reap life everlasting.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
In essence, Paul was saying, “We are not called to filth; we are called to holiness.”
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
—1 Thessalonians 4:7
The theme of holiness is also discussed by the apostle Peter:
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. —1 Peter 1:15-16
Most believers have their outward men well organized to avoid sin. However, internal, “mental” sins will kill them if they are not dealt with.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you:for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
—Romans 6:12-16 (Author’s emphasis)
In verse 12, “let not” indicates that it is the believer’s decision to sin or not to sin. “Let not” has everything to do with your personal will. You are the one who chooses whether to live a life of holiness and righteousness or a life of sin.
I am convinced that God ordained the training program, through which Grandma put me, for parents, not for Sunday school teachers, nursery school teachers, or Christian school teachers. The training of a child’s spirit must begin in the home.
My early life consisted mostly of Grandma, God, me, and my bedroom. That is when I learned to pray. The day came when Grandma no longer had to push me into spiritual things, particularly in prayer. I had learned to enjoy praying with great boldness. I desired to pray in the Spirit and everything else became secondary. I hungered for the things of the Spirit.
The day came when I would say, “Grandma, let’s go pray.” She would answer, “We haven’t had breakfast yet!”
I would respond, “I don’t care. Let’s pray, Grandma. Let’s go set people free from devils! Let’s pray for the man next door.”
I would pray as long as I could and get as close to Grandma as I could because the closer I was to her, the more I would be in the midst of the power of God when it fell. I wanted Grandma to get into that realm. I wanted the glory of God to hit. I enjoyed shaking under the power of God. I knew I would be strengthened when the glory hit.
When we prayed, I would make sure Grandma was comfortable. I would make sure she had her glass of water, her handkerchief, and her pillows. I would make sure the phone was off the hook. I would make sure no one came to the door. I knew prayer time was a time when we did not want to be disturbed in any way. No interruptions were allowed. That was the standard Grandma set.
When she prayed, I knew what every little grunt meant, and I would go get what she wanted. That is the way ministries need to treat the prophets of God today. A sigh from Grandma, a move of her little finger, and I knew what that meant. I knew Grandma better than anyone else knew her. That is the way you should be when a man or woman of God comes across your pathway. By the Spirit of God, you will know what is needed and what to say.
Grandma would discern through the Holy Spirit when family members had difficulties, even those who lived a great distance away. She would pray and we would soon see the manifestation of her prayers. Family members in difficulty were soon restored to God. Grandma had a “hotline” to God, and I knew it by the fruit of her labor. The Word of God says,
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
To survive in this hour, we must be keenly tuned to the Spirit of God. Grandma sharpened my human spirit to hear the Spirit of God as I became her “Elisha.” You need to train your children to be your “Elishas.”
Elisha knew everything about Elijah. When it was time for Elijah to go home to heaven, he asked Elisha, “What do you want of me? You have been a great blessing to me. You have helped me fight the battles. You have helped me run the race well. Now, what can I do for you?” (See 2 Kings 2:9.)
And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee;for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el.
And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it: hold ye your peace.
And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it: hold ye your peace.
And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here;for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, ifthou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back and stood by the bank of Jordan;
And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: andElisha went over.
And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
—2 Kings 2:1-15 (Author’s emphasis)
Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. He wanted all that Elijah had and more, and Elisha went on to do many great miracles for God throughout the rest of his life. This came about as a result of the training he had received from Elijah. There was a time of preparation Elisha went through before God could give him Elijahs mantle. Parents need to put their children through a time of preparation the way my Grandma did me, but even before that, they need to develop their own hunger for God.
What was Evelyn’s answer to Oral’s astonishing proposal? “Listen here, boy! If you are trying to propose to me, talk in the English language!”
A Christmas Eve Wedding
Before the weekend was over, Oral and Evelyn were engaged to be married. Three months later, on Christmas Eve 1938, they celebrated a beautiful wedding at the church Papa Roberts pastored in Westville, Oklahoma. They were married by Oral’s close friend, Reverend Oscar Moore.
Unfortunately, the newlyweds had to live apart for the next four months while Evelyn finished her teaching contract in Texas. In June, Evelyn left teaching for good to be the God-chosen helpmate of Oral Roberts.
Roberts Liardon tells us that for some men in the ministry, their wives are just side items in their service to God. But for Oral Roberts, his “darling Evelyn” was at the heart and soul of the years of ministry he offered to the Lord. From that time forward, next to the Lord, Evelyn was the dearest part of Oral’s heart and life, truly a blessing from God. He often praised this beautiful, young woman who’d become his wife. She fit him “as a hand fit into a glove.”
What Happened to the Lord’s Word?
Following his marriage to Evelyn, Oral received offers to pastor several small Pentecostal Holiness churches, first in North Carolina, then in Georgia, and then in Oklahoma. While pastoring during the next ten years, he also attended Oklahoma Baptist University and Phillips University, and taught one day a week at Southwestern Bible College. His days and nights were filled with church activities, and his latest church in Enid, Oklahoma, was growing. However, Oral Roberts was unsatisfied and miserable.
In those final years, I was privileged to be able to meet with Dr. Sumrall on a regular basis. In the beginning, he would ask me, “What questions do you have?” The first time, I told him that I didn’t have any questions. He gruffly replied, “Don’t ever come to me without questions. Don’t waste my time. I’m busy.” I made it a point to never waste his time ever again. I soon discovered that he had an amazing ability to answer complex questions with a few words of precious wisdom.
Roberts Liardon tells us that in one of our sessions, he warned, “As a pastor, you’ll have few real friends in the community. If your church is smaller than those of other pastors, they will do anything to help you. If your church is the same size as theirs, they will begin to talk about your faults. When your church is bigger than theirs, they will collect information to use against you.”
Whenever we were done, Dr. Sumrall would say, “Come here. I’ll bless you before you leave.” Then, he would put his hand on my head and, with an authoritative voice, give a two-word announcement: “Be blessed!” He did that every time I was with him. That was his way. He would tell you when to come and when to leave.
He once referred to 2 Corinthians 4:7: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” He told me that pastors often focus on the treasure and ignore the vessel. He warned me that if the gift and the vessel do not cooperate, ministries will end in disasters such as divorce, sickness, or moral failure. Then, he would ask me if I was preaching for money or for souls— for faces or for dollar signs. “If you’re not preaching for souls,” he would say, “you’ve sold yourself to mammon.”
After leaving our sessions, I often felt uncomfortable. I soon discovered, however, that our time together was much like a process described in Scripture: “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). The Lord spoke to me and suggested that the places in which I felt insecure were my places of weakness—places that need sharpening. Dr. Sumrall taught me that being in the presence of authority and greatness will bring out your insecurities, not because of anything he was doing to me, but because these were areas in my life that I needed to address and strengthen. It wasn’t long before I fell in love with his directness.
At nearly thirty years old, Lester had spent the last thirteen years of his life concentrating on the power of God to save the lost. He had patterned his life after Howard Carter’s, which he described by saying, “He had no time for sweethearts. Neither had I—until now!”145 Just as Lester was contemplating a lifetime ministry as a bachelor, he had a “chance encounter” that changed his life. At a wedding in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lester Sumrall finally met Louise Layman, the Canadian missionary he had heard about in Canada and throughout South America.
Lester often shared about that day, “At a wedding in Buenos Aires, we came face-to-face. She smiled, and I smiled. That encounter was to change my life forever.”146 Louise was playing the piano at the wedding and apparently had heard a great deal about Lester as well. After those smiles and an introduction, the young couple spent the rest of the day becoming acquainted.
Soon after this, they met again on Christmas Day, 1942, in Louise’s host home in Argentina. Knowing Lester was coming, Louise had placed a surprise gift for him under the Christmas tree in her pastor’s home. From that time, they began to correspond as they traveled separately and ministered for the Lord in South America.
Roberts Liardon tells us that a little over a year later, Lester proposed to Louise through the mail. It took over a month for him to receive her reply letter saying yes. They had met only those two brief times, but they had fallen in love while sharing about their ministry desires through their letters. Louise left the mission field in South America and returned home to Canada, and they were married in her home in British Columbia later that year, in September 1944. The thirty-two-year-old newlyweds were ready to set the world on fire with the good news of Jesus Christ!
Over the next few weeks, a series of small financial miracles eventually brought Lester to California. Unfortunately, Howard had been very vague about their exact plans for departure. When Lester arrived in San Francisco, he searched for some message or letter left behind by Howard at the Assemblies of God church there, yet he found no directions of any kind. Every person who had seen him before he’d sailed gave Lester a different answer as to where Brother Carter had gone.
Quite concerned about his next step, Lester finally inquired of the Lord. What he heard in response was, “Start at the bottom.” When Lester asked, “What is the bottom?” the answer in his spirit was, “Australia.” Howard had left the United States without Lester, possessing an amazing faith that Sumrall would somehow know what to do and where to go to follow him. With a firm belief that God was leading him each day of his journey, Lester made plans to cross the vast Pacific Ocean to meet this mysterious man of God somewhere on the continent “down under.”
Roberts Liardon tells us that Lester Sumrall had always been a brave and blustery young man, but embarking by himself on a trip to the other side of the world still brought tears to his eyes as he settled into his cabin. It was November 21, 1934, when Lester embarked on the R.M.S. Makura for Australia. He was learning firsthand what it meant to be completely obedient to God’s call.
In the 1980s, a young pastor named Colin Dye joined Kensington Temple. He founded a Bible school to train men and women for the work of the ministry and to release them to serve God around the world. Today, the International Bible Institute of London (I.B.I.O.L.) continues to train students and send them out into God’s harvest.
According to its Web site, “IBIOL operates under an Apostolic and Prophetic mantle, with a mandate to prepare His people to the ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher and to see them fulfill their purpose and destiny as radical disciples of Jesus.”
Roberts Liardon tells us that when Wynne Lewis resigned in 1991 to take on a new leadership role with Elim, Colin Dye became the Senior Minister of Kensington Temple. Under his leadership, the congregation has grown from five thousand to twenty-five thousand members, with more than ten thousand members involved in church cell groups.
Today, Kensington Temple is appreciative of their history and is following in the steps of their founder. While they have always revered their history, today they are able to discuss it openly without fearing it. Their Web site speaks freely of Jeffreys’ role as the founder of the Elim movement:
We at KT recognise the apostolic foundations of our ministry today. More than any movement or modern spiritual trend our future is tied up with foundations dug at KT by the apostolic work of George Jeffreys. Salvation, healings, miracles, missionary work, church planting, releasing ministries and revival—this was the vision of George Jeffreys that launched the ministry of KT and it is the same vision that will launch us into [the future].
Whenever people scoffed at the idea of the power of God to heal today, Jeffreys would answer in his determined manner, “It is almost 2,000 years since the sacred canon of Scripture was closed, but the dispensation of the Holy Ghost, with its miracles, signs and wonders, continues to this present day.” He reminded believers that the same gospel message that brought men and women to Christ in the New Testament is still converting sinners today, and that the same Holy Spirit who convicted them of sin and healed them is also convicting and healing today.
Roberts Liardon tells us that by the mid-1930s, Jeffreys and E. J. Phillips had been ministering together for almost twenty years. Their ministry had started in 1919, when Jeffreys had asked Phillips to join the Elim Evangelistic Band in Ireland. Although Phillips had begun by pastoring an Elim church, his prior experience in business was helpful in addressing the administrative needs of the new denomination.
Jeffreys and Phillips had had significantly different experiences growing up. Jeffreys had been raised in relative poverty, and he had been a part of a Congregationalist church where the congregation had input in the church’s government. He’d surrendered to the Lord during the fiery days of the Welsh revival, when spontaneity and freedom in the Holy Spirit had been paramount, and was forever marked by the passion of that revival. To him, powerful, Spirit-led meetings were the benchmark of success in the church. He believed that revival was available to believers at all times because the Holy Spirit was always moving on the earth. If Jesus was the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13:8), then His power should be always moving to save, heal, and baptize in the Holy Spirit.
The couple had nine sons and three daughters, and they worked hard to eke out an existence in the small mining town. Their seventh son, George, was born on February 28, 1889. Thirteen years earlier, his brother Stephen had been born. By the time George came into the world, Stephen had already been working with his father in the coal mines for a year. Stephen would continue to work in the mines for the next twenty-three years of his life, even while preaching the gospel.
Roberts Liardon tells us that like many poor mothers in Wales, Kezia Jeffreys had suffered the heartbreak of losing two young children to illness. One of those children had been named George, and so she named her sixth son in memory of the child she had lost in November of 1888. The second George Jeffreys was small and sickly, yet Kezia was not about to lose another son. She determined never to let him join his father in the coal mines, for she wanted a different life for him. After finishing school at the age of twelve—as was the custom—George worked as a door boy in the mines for just a few years before his mother found him a job as a store clerk.
Every Sunday, the family attended the Siloh Independent (Congregational) Chapel in Nantyffyllon, Wales. As a young boy, George often thought he might become a preacher in the Congregational church one day. When he was just six years old, his father died of chronic lung disease at the age of forty-seven.
As George grew older, his own frailty became more pronounced. He had a speech impediment and a facial paralysis that began to creep down the left side of his body. This caused him distress, as he feared he would never be able to preach the gospel, and also that the paralysis could bring his life to an early end.