Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mountaintop Experiences with God ...

The Brighton Leadership Conference is just a week away! I think Terry Virgo really set the tone for the anticipation for this conference when he said:

"We, therefore, come full of anticipation of outstanding Bible teaching and the potential for glorious encounters with the Holy Spirit’s power".

Glorious encounters with the Holy Spirit's power! I was in two minds as to whether to write what was on my heart here. I have been mocked and told off for being too "conference-orientated" in the past, but in thinking about the excitement and the anticipation as to what God might do and accomplish in Brighton, I decided I really don't care. Those who mock and tell me off really clearly haven't experienced conferences like Brighton before obviously! So here goes:

An Apologetic for Mountaintop Experiences.

Isaiah 40:9 - "Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion bearer of good news. Lift up your voice mightily ... lift it up - do not fear".

Exodus 24:12 - "Now the Lord said to Moses, 'Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there'".

1 Kings 19:11 - "So He said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord'".

In his sermon on Jeremiah 33:3, C H Spurgeon wrote the following;

"We may not, whilst on earth, dwell in heaven; but; who can tell how much of heaven may dwell in us whilst we are here? ... Yet you know not but that you may climb where these men did; the steps of the mountain of piety may be steep to look upon, but they are accessible to the feet of diligence. Go on, and you shall yet stand where Moses stood, and behold Canaan from the top of Nebo. Remember that you are as yet upon the lowlands; be not ashamed to acknowledge that you are desirous to climb upwards. Bend your knees, and God will show you in experience "great and mighty things" that you know not yet ...

If any man is content with his own experience, it is entirely through ignorance".

The Observer Magazine has some useful tips for climbing mountains that can, I think, be applied to preparing for a mountaintop experience with God. I've added a few thoughts of my own.

1. Don't rush your build-up.

2. Understand it won't be easy.

3. Picture yourself on the mountain, succeeding.

4. Be prepared for lots of 'down time'.

5. When you reach the summit, you will see far.

However the Word of God is even more insightful as to what can be accomplished when one is up a mountain.

1. God Speaks On Mountains.

- Exodus 19:3 - "Moses went upto God and the Lord called to him from the mountain saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel".

I think we can come to Brighton fully expectant that God will speak powerfully through the preached Word of God and through the words given by the prophets. The people have come apart for one reason - to be with God! And it is exciting to consider that He will be faithful and will speak to His people.

2. God Reveals Himself on Mountains.

- 1 Kings 19:11 - "So He said, 'Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord'. And behold the Lord was passing by!".

Terry Virgo spoke of "glorious encounters". This is the ultimate goal as to why I am so looking forward to Brighton! That I might encounter Him and have my life changed forever! Could it be that the Lord passes by (or what Dr Lloyd-Jones called 'revival') when we are together united in worship at Brighton?

3. God Shows Visions On Mountains.

- Numbers 27:12 - "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go up this mountain ... and see the land".

Newfrontiers is a stimulating people to be among because the visions that God has given them corporately and as individual churches are numerous. In the four Brighton conferences I have been to and the two Stoneleigh Bible Weeks, I have seen God reveal progressively more dynamic, more glorious and more daring visions to Newfrontiers. This in turn has raised faith and expectancy for more of God! Could it happen again this year?

4. God Commands Mobility on Mountains.

- Deuteronomy 1:6 - "You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance".

Brighton will indeed be a glorious week. I have absolutely no shadow of doubt of that. But over the years I have noticed that the feeling of regret, nostalgia and sadness as the conference draws to a close has diminished. And the excitement that I am returning to my home, to the city in which I live (for now) and the church to which I belong - equipped and armed with the fact that I have met God - is quite an amazing transforming truth. I long that when I return from Brighton, a week Friday, I will indeed have this word burning in my heart. "Break camp and advance". I shared a while back that I feel God has told me I have been in Bristol long enough. I desperately hope that God may reveal His plans for me, the next steps in my walk with Him.


Sheila said...

I'll look forward to a *detailed* account of this conference...the messages, prophetic words, all of it. I bless you with a mountaintop experience so real, that you have to catch your breath - - "thin air" up there, you know! God can "withstand" your desires for more -and is well able to teach you all you need to know.

And you are right - NO regret. NO nostalgia upon leaving...none of that wasted emotion. There's work to be done, Dan - so return in strength and in power and with a spirit that is resolute towards your own personal "long obedience in one direction."

I'll pray each time the Father brings you to mind...

PS. My husband's trip into Puerto Rico went well - full of divine appointments. ONE example: After preaching, during an altar call, LOTS of folks in this precious *small* church were coming forward. Tim saw a man in the back, and the Spirit said to him, "I want to heal his gut." ??! Tim does not speak a lick of Spanish beyond, "No hablo Espanol" it took....well, "guts"...for my husband to stop the translator before she could even speak for the man in the back, and say, "Stop. Tell him the Lord wants to heal his gut." BOTH the translator and the man began to weep. THEN the translator said, "He says he has been diagnosed with a cancer - a bleeding in his bowels, and the diagnosis is terminal." All Tim could do was pray for him, and tell him to see his doctor within the week. I'm believing he will be healed.

But YES - the Holy Ghost and gifts of the Spirit are alive and well. May you encounter Him/them in Brighton.

thebluefish said...

Dont we come to Mount Jesus not to a place though? Not sure how that affects our experience...

...not sure what the early church would make of our conferences, what reasons they'd give for gathering the wider church...

..i say this ahead of going to hear Piper for two days in London.

jul said...

Have a great time Dan! We're trying to get to the Northeast camp thing over here (for NFI) in a few weeks and I am certainly not ashamed. I know you will experience an amazing outpouring of God's love and power, because he hears our prayers and delights to fill us when we ask. I'm a little jealous...but God lives here too.

Baxter's Boy said...

Yep Dave, that's exactly right. Sorry if I didn't make that clear. I've argued elsewhere that location doesn't guarantee a mountaintop experience with God anymore (based on a quote from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).

Just being in Brighton or at the Stoneleigh Agricultural Showground or ... anywhere really doesn't guarantee anything. I think the key is the Holy Spirit! "Worship in spirit ... and in truth". He is where He's welcomed.

Interesting point about the early church. Conferences (or holy convocations) were advocated indeed commanded in the OT - but would they have hestitated gathering in the NT due to persecution issues?

Just a thought! Hope Piper is characteristically brilliant.

Sheila said...

Mr. Davethebluefish...

Just for the record, I completely agree with you. I just didn't want to rag on Dan RIGHT before a conference. ( ya'll say "rag on" where you are? It can mean one extreme or the other..."to cruelly mock", or even "to gently critique". It can mean anything that might feel like a source of conflict to the recipient.)

But I still don't think GOD is bugged by Dan's strong desire to encounter God "away" at a conference. It is Dan hurting himself, if that is the "only way" he can indeed experience God. After all, one always has to come down from the mountain, and face the every day stuff of know, like thrashing a few saints...yelling and stomping....drawing the line in the sand and bellowing, "WHO IS ON THE LORD'S SIDE??"

The mountaintop experiences can put one in an instant bad mood upon descent. The "process is the solution", though. Gotta learn to deal with it.

Oh dear. Dan, I'm not saying that is the case with you...

Nevermind. I try too hard to be nice for my own good as a communicator. ;-) UNLESS I'm addressing an angry anonymous person. I don't feel the need to be sweet-sie with anyone whose name I do not know.

thebluefish said...

I don't think there can be any harm in wanting to meet with God! And when that can happen in the company of other Christians at a conference - brilliant! And when it can happen back home - brilliant!

Baxter's Boy said...

Thanks Sheila, I definately agree with both you and Mr Dave-the-blue-fish. I think that an unhealthy emphasis on mountaintop experiences is wrong and it's something I have experienced. Being at Stoneleigh Bible Week or Brighton is an amazing, awesome experience. But it isn't the church! That's something the Newfrontiers team were always careful to emphasise. So to focus on the mountaintops soley as I used to, does mean a dreading of the "coming down" and a counting down till the next "fix".


However I will not apologise for a deep love and tremendously growing excitement of the opportunity to worship with thousands of others at Brighton. It's a taste of heaven!

Can it be that the key is to see the conferences as they should be - as encounters with God FOR A PURPOSE. That's why I wrote as I did - the purpose is to hear God, to experience Him, to hear His commission, and to break camp and eagerly march back to your home locality ready for the next stage or the "second half" to use a Newfrontiers term!

And I'm so tremendously thankful to God for a church that is welcome and eager for the Spirit's Presence so that I don't wait for Brighton to encounter God on a yearly basis but can on a weekly and daily basis. Surely that's the Biblical perspective!

Sheila said...

Surely, it is my friend! (You said, "Surely that's the Biblical perspective!") And I'd never ask you to apologize for your great love for conferences.

*whew* Glad I did not offend you, Dan. I have a hard time relating to looking forward to a conference. I always DREAD 'em. YES, I'm filled, blessed, and taught...but I'm also worn absolutely ragged. I got jaded about conferences when I started having children...first twins, then another, then another. My husband and I were always leaders in our church, then Tim became pastor, and then we led to varying degrees in our network of churches - in some scope or fashion, we were looked to. Initially, we were looked to for the behind the scenes conference stuff such as sound. My husband also plays the drums, so he was expected to do that, as well as making sure tapes got made AND copied, and sound equipment moved from room to room. So I, unfortunately, have not got to "just be" at a conference for 15 years.

You know what? I'm just realizing this about myself.

That colors my opinions about conferences, for sure. Maybe I SHOULD make it a point to "just be" at one great conference. Maybe I SHOULD find a conference, *outside* our stream of churches, and attend it. Be incognito. (not that I'm famous....sheesh.)

Just enjoy and learn and soak in the times of worship, rather than juggle babies by myself, without the aid of my drummer/pastor/soundman/husband. WHAT A NOVEL IDEA! Maybe he and I could "just be" at one together! Particularly now that the wee ones are all teenagers, it just might be OUR TIME BABY! It might at least be "my time" to actually enjoy a conference.

Hmmm. I kinda like the idea. Wish I had time and money to fly to Brighton.

Baxter's Boy said...

You could never offend me. I'm a weird sort of hybrid to that effect. People that I don't trust and fear (SGM-ites usually) can offend me at the drop of a hat because I'm sensative to the smallest look, or word. But people who've got my trust can insult me and I won't bat an eyelid! So you keep on just as you are!

I wish you could come to Brighton too. Here's an idea - I reckon we ought to gatecrash Charles Simpson's awesome sounding Leaders Conference next year when Bob Mumford will be ministering again with Bro Charles? I think it will be history in the making!! A must! :D