I was going to write quite an empassioned post about something that's been on my heart for some time. And that will come - maybe tomorrow.
But I have come back from the most amazing lunch with Ursula - a fellow blogger I met for the first time today. Whooooo ... what to say about Ursula?! We hit it off straight away - as soon as we hugged I felt the fire vibrating through this anointed servant of God. It certainly didn't feel like a first meeting in person! I felt completely at one in spirit and felt like she's going to be someone I'm seeing a lot of! We didn't stop talking from start to finish and I loved the fact that she did most of the talking. That was mainly at my design - I was there to learn and hear all about "Grace and Glory 2009" and more importantly about her encounters with God.
As I was driving home listening to the new City Church International worship album that Ursula had kindly brought for me (I LOVE souvenirs from Hong Kong!!) a lot of thoughts were flying round in my head. The first was a longing for encounters and experiences with God like she had. The second was a weary tiredness with "fear of the counterfeit" and getting it "right" that has been drummed into me since childhood. What has such fear produced? I mean really? Has such an obsession with right theology produced increased conversions or increased signs, wonders and miracles?
I was reminded of something that Rob Rufus said at "Glory and Grace" in 2007 when I was there;
"Paul said in Galatians, 'I am shocked that you are so quickly leaving the true gospel and going after another gospel that is no gospel at all' ... it is a false gospel and a legalistic gospel ... I want to say, Rob Rufus wants to say, I am astonished at the fear and paranoia amongst Christians about being deceived by false signs and wonders. I want to say - you either need to get saved (because you can't be saved if you are that frightened) or as a Christian realise that every counterfeit is easy to discern.
It takes you away from Jesus but true signs and wonders take you closer to Jesus. How can you NOT discern the difference?! How can you be so dumb and still breathe? I know Him! I know His secret ways! I know His smell! I know His voice and tone! Nothing could counterfeit Glenda to me - unless I didn't know her very well! Nothing can counterfeit the Holy Spirit to me! I have known Him for 30 years and you can be one day old in the Lord and a one day convert and you can meet the Holy Spirit - any other spirit will dishonour Jesus and point to man! It will exalt man and flesh!
This fear - "Oh in the last days we are going to be deceived!". No - those who don't know their God will be deceived but Daniel says those that know their God will do mighty signs and wonders! I am convinced there are Christians that don't know God - they are strangers to God! They have got head knowledge and full of theology about God but have never met Him! They don't know Him! When He turns up in a meeting and is moving by His power - they stand there looking around saying "What is this?". This is THAT which was the prophet Joel spoke about; "I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh! Your sons and daughters will prophesy!".
These are not days to be wondering "Is this God or not?". You should know within seconds. When banktellers are trained how to recognise the counterfeit notes, they don't spend ages handling counterfeit to recognise counterfeit currency. They give them hours of training just passing the genuine through their fingers. They become so familiar with the genuine that the moment a counterfeit passes through - they recognise it immediately! Don't worry about the counterfeit - get so close to the genuine Holy Spirit and then you will know immediately a demon spirit or a new age spirit!".
You may have felt that I was banging my drum about the Song of Solomon unnecessarily. I've written quite a few posts about it now I just realised!
It all started with "If It's New it Probably Isn't True" - A Response to C J Mahaney's View on the Song of Solomon". It had never even entered my head that people could and would believe that a book of the sacred Word of God could be simply a glorified sex manual for married couples. I didn't appreciate C J Mahaney mocking that view very much!
When last month a series of posts on the Song of Songs was prompted by a chat with my Dad.
What Song of Solomon Has to Teach Us!! - It's no good just being negative about the view you don't like.
When John MacArthur Gets It Right!! - MacArthur takes toilet-mouth Mark Driscoll to task (even though they have the same views on Song of Songs).
When Rob Rufus Gets It Right!! - Rob Rufus addressed Song of Songs and made his views clear in a prayer at "Grace and Glory".
Dr Peter Masters is Right!! - Another uber-conservative, Reformed scholar and cessationist teaches accurately and powerfully on what the Song of Solomon has to say to us.
So why? What's the connection?
Well if the Song of Solomon is an accurate representation of the passionate, intimate love that God has for us and the response that can evoke in us then here is the clue to not having to fear deception and the counterfeit. Learn about the true intimacy we can find in Jesus Christ and we will never mistake Him for a demon! Ever! I don't think the answer is to be found in endless theology textbook after textbook anymore. I used to. But I suddenly saw the Bible warns clearly against this too;
"Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these".
Avoid them! So as an expression of such intimacy I want to post Ursula's wonderful encounter and journey into heaven and her meeting with Jesus Himself (during the Sydney Glory and Grace Conference). In the past I might have probably tutted and headed for the theology textbooks to check out if it was "right". Now I hunger after such encounters. I long to know His manifest love!;
"I was in the middle of this huge field and Jesus was standing next to me. We went for a walk – and I was just telling Him how much I love Him – we only got about 5 steps – and He turned and hugged me. My arms were around His neck and His arms were around my middle and He was holding me tight. He swung me around and around and I could only bury my neck in His neck and revel in this love He had for me.
Eventually, Jesus put me down and still with our arms around each other we walked on. But we only got about 3 steps and suddenly it was like He couldn’t contain Himself and I was in His arms again swinging. He was laughing and crying and there was just so much love for me and I was totally undone by it. My heart felt like it was expanding till it was going to burst. The more we swung the deeper His love was, the deeper we fell in love and I was just whispering “I love you, I love you, I love you…I just want to fall in love more and more with you…” I was just totally overwhelmed by His incredible, totally indescribable love for me".
Do you know what I realised? The Song of Solomon teaches us that while marriage is indeed wonderful, we don't have to wait for it to encounter this wonderful intimate love. It doesn't begin at marriage! Sure Ursula is right;
"When both of our eyes are on His eyes, on Him, when He is our first love, the intensity of the love for Him actually multiplies because the two of us become one…and our love for Him together is stronger than just one of our loves…and that in the spiritual realm, that doesn’t just double, but multiplies over and over and over".
But Paul said it is BETTER that some remain single for a reason! And why would it be better if single celibate people missed out on this joyful intimate love? The answer is that we can experience this here and now with Jesus Christ - the risen and exalted Lord Himself. Here! Now! And that is the best defence against the counterfeit.