I love your presence (part 1)

 

Joaquin Evans

 

Wow, just got back from another great conference. The main speaker was Joaquin Evans who is the director of the healing rooms at Bill Johnson’s “Bethel” church in the states. Josh, another great guy who was with him, spoke too as did Pete Carter who was hosting the conference. I have made tonnes of notes which I will endeavor to transcribe but for now I just want to make some general remarks.

Although it was a healing conference and I went with a desire to move forward in that particular area, the overwhelming thing I took away with me is a desire for more of the presence of God. The two main speakers lived lives in the tangible, knowable, experiential, powerful, presence of God.

When Paul talks about us being temples of the Holy Spirit and about fellowship with the Spirit, and when Jesus says that he would send ‘another’ to be with us and that indeed he would always be with us, they are not merely passing on information that would otherwise be unknowable; things, as it were to bear in mind. They were talking about a tangible, experience-able knowledge of a reality. Being a Christian is being with Jesus. That’s the deal. Now, of course, I agree that truth trumps experience, so when we don’t feel like God is with us we can know that he is, and act accordingly, but it’s a truth that can and should be experienced. In thick fog a pilot needs to use his artificial horizon but his plane also has windows so that most of the time he can look outside. Most of the time his reality doesn’t need to be mediated, it can be experienced.

Closely related to the presence of God is knowing the love of God. You can tell someone that God loves them and they can agree that, “yes, he does”, but that is not the fullness of what the bible means when it uses the word “know”. Again it is experiential. When Paul prays for the Ephesians:

Eph 3:16-19   that according to the riches of his glory [God] may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (ESV)

he is not trying to persuade them to agree to a fact. He longs for them to have a supernatural experiential encounter with truth. He even says that this love surpasses knowledge!

I love hearing people who know something of the experience of the Holy Spirit teach the bible. It’s such a shame when wonderful passages like this are watered down to head knowledge and holy living. Talk of living by the Spirit and fellowship with the spirit should not be reduced to mere moralism.

They talked about the anointing, and how as we spend time in God’s presence we get “smeared with Him”. That is something of what anointing means apparently. It’s a wonderful thought. When we come back from a pub, or restaurant, or staying at a hotel,  we smell of the place we have been. When we get clothes via eBay they smell different to our clothes – they carry the smell of their owners. It got me thinking. Do I smell of the presence of God? Dogs can smell fear but demons can smell God!

So often I experience tangible fear and anxiety. The fact that something might go wrong is not just head knowledge. It affects my heart and I experience fear. Fear can have a powerful effect on my emotions, and my thinking and my actions. How much more should the knowledge of God’s love flood my heart with joy and motivate me to extend the kingdom. In fact, the bible says that the knowledge and experiential power of this love “casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). I love that expression “cast out” (the Greek word is “Ballo”). It makes me think of a fight taking place in a wild west Saloon. In the movies there is always a shot from the outside as the fight rages inside, then crash! the bad guy is thrown through the window and out onto the dusty street outside. That is what “cast out” means. “To throw, not caring where it falls, to let go of”. It’s used in Rev 6:13 to describe how figs fall from a tree in a fierce wind. In John 13:5 it describes water being poured out of a basin and in Mark 12:41 where Jesus is “casting out” the money changers from the temple. I know what it is to walk around with a knot of anxiety. Now I want to enjoy the freedom that a knowledge of God’s love and presence brings.

Again, when our spirits cry “abba” Father it’s a wonderful experiential exclamation, not a stoic, factual declaration. Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6. On the way back from the conference I realized that I never called my dad “Father” or, in my remembrance at least, even “daddy”. I call him dad. I wondered if I could call God “dad”. It sounded odd but intimate. Thanks to having a good earthly dad using that term of address immediately brought with it massive positive emotional and relational content. I am still being cautious with this as it seems so amazing and too good to be true. Too irreverent, too informal, too close. It’s much easier to use the old fashioned, Victorian sounding “father” as it has enough religion about it to keep God at a polite distance. It recognizes the truth but doesn’t lead me into a full experience of it. Calling God “dad” on the other hand puts me in his arms, and in his heart. It brings security and acceptance and joy and peace.

I grew up in a church where at the end of each meeting the following was said:

2 Cor 13:14   The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (ESV)

Now that’s a great thing to say but sadly for me it was just words. Now I want it to be a reality. For these things to “be with me”.

I came back from the conference singing a great song.

In the glory of your presence
I find rest, for my soul
In the depths of your love
I find peace, makes me whole

I love, I love, I love your presence
I love, I love, I love your presence
I love, I love, I love you Jesus
I love, I love, I love your presence

It’s so true. I do love his presence.

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