Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Furnace Encounter

Packed in a room that would comfortably fit a group half our size we began to worship Jesus with everything we had. The music blared from the stage, people jumped, danced, and cried: this was Furnace Encounter. There is just nothing like going to the mountains of Colorado in order to pray and worship with 150 of your closest friends.
Furnace Encounter is a deeper life retreat. We specifically set time aside in order to pray, worship, study, and cultivate our relationship with the Lord. This weekend was planned in order to emulate a God time, the only difference is that we did it all together as a big corporate group. Friday night started with worship. We did the typical singing to the Lord, but people also were encouraged to journal who God has been to them. Everyone was asked to use their own words, not the cute phraseology that we all learn in church. After that each person wrote their own Psalm. It was essentially a mad lib Psalm. After worship we had a time of introspective prayer; praying through distractions, hurts, worries, repentance and so on. The night concluded by breaking into groups for a time of foot washing by the accountability leaders.
One of the fun things that happened over the weekend was that we had a prayer meeting that lasted through the night both nights. People were able to sign up for time slots to keep the fire of prayer burning through the night and there was not an hour that was left empty. Alarm clocks went off at all hours of the night as people rose to go to the prayer room. And it is not as if there was only one person at a time, groups of 4-10 people filled each hour with intercession.
Saturday was full of activities interactive sessions. There was a split guy/girl session, paint wars, tug of war, blind folded hiking, times of silence and waiting on God, individual observational bible study, group discussions and other applied activities.
Truth be told, Saturday night was really were real encounter happened. This was a typical retreat session minus the preaching. There were basically two elements, worship and prayer. Both flowed throughout the evening. Saturday night came down to Revelation 21:5 & 6, “He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
This led into a prayer time of asking to be those that longed for His return, that view Him as King, and that pray thirsty prayers. We spent the rest of the night praying these “thirsty” prayers. There was prayer for the healing of those that had been wounded by a father or leader, prayer against a religious spirit or performance mentality, prayer for those that had been hurt by people trying to force the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we eagerly desired and prayed for gifts, we asked for the planting and growth of the fruit of the Spirit. This is just a few things that were prayed for. The truth is that so much happened that night that it cannot really be summed up in a paragraph. People were healed, hearts were mended, worship was real, prayer was fervent. It was one of the most powerful evenings that I have been a part of in a long time.
Sunday morning we got to sit around and tell testimonies of what God had done over the past 40 hours of our being together. It was so encouraging to hear the stories that most of us would never hear. God did so much outside of our little plans. This weekend showed yet again that it is the presence of God that marks us.

***I want to give a quick shout out to the worship band and the Dream Team! Without you guys we could not have done the weekend. You are amazing; keep storing up the heavenly crown. Much love.

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