Tim Hill has a giant task before him, one set before him by his 2016 election as the 27th general overseer of the Church of God, headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee. More than 100 years after its 1886 founding, this Pentecostal denomination is still going strong.
"We're in 185 nations around the world," Dr. Hill said. "In the United States, we have some 6,500 congregations, 1.4 million members. Our strongest constituency is outside the United States, with a total membership of a little over 7 million members."
Raised a pastor's son, Hill is an ordained bishop. He finds his current role as "a shepherd and a coach in some regard to other overseers" a good fit.
"I've enjoyed every minute of it thus far," he said. "I was elected in 2016 to do a four-year term. I will be eligible for another term in 2020 if I don't make too many people mad. You can't please everybody, so you set out as your main goal to please the Lord and trust Him for the rest."
Hill's broad accent gives him away as someone from the South—Texas, to be exact—but he's lived in six states. For the past 15 years, he and his wife, Paula, have made their home in Tennessee.
Charisma House's recent release of his latest book, The Speed of Favor: How God Exceeds, Increases and Accelerates Your Life only adds to Hill's busy schedule of international travel and preaching multiple services a week.
"I do probably about 100 services a year," Hill said in the rich baritone voice that also led to a Southern gospel musical career.
As he serves, Hill focuses on Jesus' call to go and "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20a).
"We are right now big-time engaged in what we call the 'FINISH Commitment,' and that is a focus on doing our part to help finish the Great Commission," he said. "That's something that we drive home every day with our leaders, with our staff, personnel and with our pastors, and it's a vision that's just caught on like fire."
Hill has a strong desire for the church to finish the Great Commission "in the Spirit and power of Pentecost," he said. "The thing that I'm saying is the Great Commission should not be removed from Pentecost, nor should Pentecost be removed from the Great Commission. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses, and one of the things I say is we were not filled with the Holy Spirit for our enjoyment. We were filled for our employment. God has called all of us to be involved in that."
The Amos 9:13 Blessing
God prepared Hill well for the work of overseeing his significant denomination. In 2014, as the bishop was completing a different ministry assignment, he heard the Lord speak to his spirit early one morning.
"'I'm bringing you into your Amos 9:13 season.' I didn't have a clue what that even said, but I looked it up, did a lot of reference on it, and it's that Old Testament passage where the Bible talks about 'the plowman shall overtake the reaper.' It's basically two seasons culminating at one time, the season of sowing and the season of reaping, which defies logic. Any farmer knows that doesn't happen, because you plant, then you wait, you weed and then you water and sometimes you worry. If nothing goes wrong, you get the harvest."
Hill reflected on the literal translation of that Old Testament verse, which "gives us the picture of the toe of the plowman being on the heel of the reaper," he said. "It shows you almost his hand on his shoulder. He's breathing down his neck, basically saying, 'If you'll get out of my way, it's already time for me to sow seed from the harvest you've already reaped, but it's time to sow seed again so a new harvest can begin.' God reaches in and extracts that long, arduous season of struggle we've all come to expect, where we live actually in a fight for our faith a lot of the time."
God brought Hill into a special season of life, one that would overflow with blessings for his family and church, a time of accelerated favor. Out of that season came the message of The Speed of Favor. After preaching its truths for some time, he said, he has witnessed and heard of "incredible miracles in a lot of different categories."
The Already Factor
When faith and expectation are activated, Hill says the believer begins to see what he calls the "Already Factor." He believes it's in place in the lives of all Christians, but they need to "know how to find it and how to look for it," he said. They must be "spiritually perceptive."
To guide believers to the Already Factor, Hill points them straight to Scripture.
"What explains the fish that had a coin in its mouth at tax time?" he said. "Jesus sends the disciples down to the seashore to pick up that fish. The first one they pick up has got the coin that pays the tax. That's the Already Factor.
"What explains the ram caught in the brush for Abraham when he's ready to kill Isaac on the altar? That's the Already Factor.
"The Bible said when Jesus fed the thousands with that little boy's lunch, he asked Philip, 'Where can we get bread that these may eat?' in order to test the faith of Philip, because Jesus Himself already knew what He was going to do.'"
In the Old Testament book of Exodus, God brought Jacob's family out of a famine-stricken land to Egypt.
"In that first chapter, it lists the 11 brothers of Joseph, but in parentheses, at least in the old King James Version, it's got this little phrase: 'Joseph was already there.' Well, God favored that situation enough to put something in place before a need manifested itself. There's a man named Joseph who's in Pharaoh's palace before Pharaoh even knows he's going to have a problem. That's the Already Factor."
Several years ago, Hill experienced the Already Factor via God's provision for his denomination's needs.
"When the Lord put this in my spirit, and I was facing this transition, I was elected at that point in time to a directorship of world missions for our denomination," he said. "After I got elected, somebody walked up to me in accounting in world missions and said, 'You need to know we're $250,000 in the red in our missionary account. We've already told 30 missionaries they've got to come home and probably will never get to go back.'
"Well, the Lord had already been speaking to me about this accelerated favor, so when I received that word, I had already asked to receive the offering in that evening's service for world missions. So I got off by myself. I said, 'Lord, you've been talking to me about accelerated favor. That needs to start right now.'"
In the service that night, Hill presented the need for mission funding. He was "just hoping to break even, just hoping to raise $250,000 to bring us out of the deficit and just trying to buy some time till we could figure out a plan," he said.
With about 100 missionaries standing behind him, he "passed the plate" and waited for the report from those counting the gifts.
"Well, it takes them an hour to get the report to me because they've been back there frantically trying to count this money," he said. "It was not $250,000. It was $750,000, and I heard the Holy Spirit whisper in my heart, and say, 'I told you. This is the beginning of your Amos 9:13 season, accelerated favor. The plowman shall overtake the reaper.'"
Hill also experienced a significant turnaround in his family life after God spoke to him about the Amos passage. For four years, one of his three daughters had been "away in a rock 'n' roll band and all these kinds of things," he said.
The situation weighed on the hearts of Hill and his wife.
"One night I was in Spain, and I preached to a thousand young people and saw the majority of them come down to the front to accept a call of God into the ministry or accept Christ or whatever, and I go to my hotel room and scream in my pillow and say, 'God, who's reaching my child?'" he said. "I'd seen my wife get up in the middle of the night and lay across my daughter's bed. All we knew to do was pray for her safety."
Hill knows that "ministers are not exempt" from this type of family situation.
"I remember the day she walked in and said she had chosen to basically hop on the bus with a rock group for the next four years while I'm putting on the face of ministry, going around the world, preaching to other people's kids and seeing them come to the altar."
She was "raised in church, went to all the youth camps, baptized in water," he said. "I was her pastor. I baptized her, but she went away from God, and I talk about this in the book, but seven days from the time the Lord gave me that promise about accelerated favor in my life, my family, that young lady calls home one day and she says, 'I can't explain it. I don't understand it, but I'm coming home. I've had an encounter with God.' She came home and began to write her music for praise and worship teams here locally. And it's just been incredible what I have seen."
The 3 Elements of Favor
In 2014, God spoke three things to Hill that early morning when He promised the Amos 9:13 blessing.
"He indicated to me in my spirit that He would exceed all I expect," he said. "Secondly, He would increase all I invest. But here's the big one: He said, 'I will accelerate the impact of time in order to fulfill my kingdom purpose in you.' In other words, what used to take six months will only take a month; what used to take a month may take a week; and what used to take a week may take a day. The Lord was just indicating that there was an acceleration of His favor in my life, to make time work to His advantage for me."
Although Hill says all believers in Jesus are blessed, favor is something beyond, something different. But, he cautions, favor is not fantasy.
"I still get wet when it rains," he said. "When my kids were little, they needed braces, and I had to get them. My tires wear out on my car. Favor is not this fantasy realm, but when I define favor, I talk about walking in agreement, walking in alignment, first of all with God and His Word, living the life I need to live and should live according to Scripture to please the Lord.
As a result of that, God, I believe, expresses to His sons and His daughters favor that comes with just walking in agreement and alignment with Him to meet our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. We're not talking about some magical formula here or a spiritual slot machine."
What Hill is talking about, though, is the fact that "God smiles upon us, that God intends to give His grace to us for certain situations and certain seasons that exceeds some of our own expectations," he said.
God exceeds, increases and accelerates your life, as The Speed of Favor's subtitle indicates.
As for God exceeding the expected, Hill points to "great pessimism in this world today unlike anything I've ever seen," he said. "And I think our expectation level is low. But some time ago in some of my travels, I was going to a physician's office to get an inoculation for an out-of-country trip I was making. It just occurred to me, You know what? As much as I need a physical inoculation, I need a spiritual inoculation. I asked the Lord to just shoot me full of Ephesians 3:20: 'Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that I ask or think according to the power that works in me.'"
Along with that, Hill said, "He will increase what we invest. I hear in that the old passage where God said, 'Give and it shall be given until you, pressed down, shaken together, running over will I cause men to give unto your bosom.' He said, 'Prove Me. Try Me. Just give Me a chance and watch what I'll do in your life.'"
The third and final component was that "He will accelerate the impact of time," Hill said. "He'll make time work for me. You see, God's not confined to my calendar. He's not confined to my clock. He works inside and outside the boundaries of time because He is eternal. He is God, and He said, 'I will increase the impact. I will accelerate the impact of time for My kingdom purpose.' It's not just so that I can go out and get some kind of prize as it relates to wealth or properties or anything like that, but it's for His kingdom purposes. 'Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.' That's what I'm about."
For the believer guided by the Word and Spirit, the blessing in Amos 9:13 is a true faith-builder.
"When people have the opportunity to lift their eyes and have their faith elevated, they're reminded that we serve a God who can do all things," Hill said. "He's the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but He is our God. It's a faith-builder for sure."
Christine D. Johnson is editor of Charisma Leader. Email her at [email protected] with your response to this article and issue.
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