Friday, 18 May 2007

Stopping the parade

I am reading The God Catchers by Tommy Tenney at the moment. Much of what he says resonates with me at this time.

"If you ever have an encounter with the manifest presence of God, it will ruin church for you......"

I feel like that sometimes. When I have chattered on about how the Holy Spirit turned up and blessed my socks off at a meeting I later remember what it was like for me when during an all might prayer session I was so overwhelmed with God showed me of his heart that I couldn't speak and it took me days to translate the experience into words. And I know in my heart we have seen nothing yet.

I have this ache that we quickly congratulate ourselves about the liveliness of our worship and the height of passion in our praying. Yet although we might be jumping higher than some, most of the time we fail to get over the bar. I can't settle for a lower height when I've been over the bar. And I've discovered that even then, God has this way of not letting you get used to even that. He keeps raising the level.

It's similar in terms of evangelism too. I have been working in the prison for 6 years now. I have always found it a fulfilling ministry but in these last weeks, when we have seen God do remarkable things in the lives of some of our prisoners I can now only be truly satisfied with making disciples.

It's true in spiritual warfare. I'm moving. Prince Harry is apparently disappointed that he is not allowed to serve in a war zone. I am certain that I am called to venture onto enemy territory in new ways in the coming days.

And what about holiness? I am convinced of the Salvation Army's teaching on this doctrine and testify to its blessing. I believe it and hopefully live it. It's too important to tailor it to fit in with other churches or to make it palatable to those even within our own ranks who don't believe it.

Perhaps Tommy Tenney has it right when he refers to the loud cry of Bartimaeus after Jesus. His pleading halted the procession of people following Jesus through Jericho in its tracks. This annoyed the crowd intensly. They were enjoying the parade and the seeming progress they were making but Jesus stopped the whole thing for the sake of a beggar with a loud voice. Everyone experienced a miracle that day.

All I know is that I am desperate enough for God's presence, too aware of urgency of the gospel message, too fired up to sit in the grandstand and not fight, too amazed by the fullness of the salvation we have been given to worry anymore if my cry for mercy embarrasses people and stops the parade.

Merciful God
We pray don't pass us by
In your love
Remember mercy

God bless