Saturday, November 24, 2007

Preaching that MUST produce Encounters

I recently posted a clip of Rob Rufus speaking to the Mobilise thousands at Brighton in July about the absolute necessity to DAILY encounter God. I am finding that everything I read, everything I hear and everything I look at seems to be pointing towards this need. I must be encountering God! Daily! Therefore I was encouraged to read this quote on Terry Virgo's latest blog post;

"Holy Spirit-inspired preaching brings about an encounter with God that demands a verdict and produces a changed life based on revelation, faith and love, not cold obedience to external rules".

Can we assume then that preaching that doesn't bring about an encounter with God, that doesn't demand a verdict or produce a changed life based on revelation, faith and love ISN'T then Holy-Spirit inspired preaching? I find that quite sobering because then much of the preaching I have heard in my life doesn't really fit that criteria and clearly then hasn't been Holy-Spirit inspired.

Terry goes on to address pastor/teachers and bring them wise fatherly counsel;

"Ultimately, we also are sheep. We need to stay very close to the great shepherd, enjoying His smile, drinking in His lavish grace and being diligent to embrace His disciplines and training and follow His guidance".

I'm not a pastor/teacher but I have heard enough from wise teachers such as Ern Baxter, Terry himself and Rob Rufus to know that personal encounters with God is a priority for any servant of God seeking to serve the people of God. Are you spending more time in prayer and intimacy with God over reading books (as helpful and important as that is)? Are home visits taking priority over times of solitary with God? Even Jesus Himself left the crowds and walked alone with His Father in the mountains.

"No under-shepherd is an end in himself, or has intrinsic superior wisdom".

This reminded me of a key quote of C H Spurgeon's that led me to set up the "Pentecostal/Charismatic Post-it Notes Blog". Spurgeon said;

"The man who never reads will never be read. He who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains proves that he has no brains of his own ... You need to read".

It always intrigues me to look round at conferences and see some sitting with a bored expression on their faces and closed notebooks on their laps. Our God has not only poured out the most lavish expression of grace possible by ripping the veil and making intimacy with Himself possible, but He has provided ascension gifts - apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers to learn from and be provoked by their relationships with God. None of us have "intrinsic superior wisdom"! Let's always be prepared to be students our entire lives.

I must admit one of the main character traits that make me admire and love men like Ern, Terry and Rob Rufus so much isn't so much their preaching oratory skills (although I do love that) but more their obsessive passion and desire to hunger and seek after the face of God. It is their longing for His Presence that provokes me and stirs me more than anything else.

"Once you hear God’s audible voice in your heart and experience His Presence you will want it again and again. Every day I stand in the Presence of God. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t feel the Presence of God go through me and the glory and tangible Presence go through me like electrical currents. Once you experience it once you know the address of the glory. If I went ONE day without Him I would get so lonely! And I am looking for other addicts!".

Are you prepared to become an addict? Does your preaching fit the criteria of Terry's quote? Does the preaching you hear week by week make you long to encounter God and hungry all week to seek after Him? Does the preaching that you are exposed to week by week bring about a changed life not based on external cold rules but revelation of God's grace and faith in the fact that He loves us so much?

If not ... why not?

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