Friday, August 19, 2011

Blessed Be Your Name!

I was going to write a blog tonight on the on-going SGM saga and my thoughts about the dear people within and the effects on them. But while I was running on the treadmill at the gym, Matt Redman's wonderful; "Blessed be Your Name" came on my iPod. It made me cry (always humiliating when surrounded by people working out!).

But this thoughts came to my mind.

One of the hardest things I have been struggling with recently has been the absence of the manifest Presence of God. When you love and enjoy ministries such as Terry Virgo or Rob Rufus especially who share such faith-building stories, it can grate at times when one's personal experience cannot match up to the accounts of servants of God such as these. It strikes me in this situation that there are two options;

1. Adjust your theology to match your experience (as per heroes of mine such as Dr Stanley Jebb and C J Mahaney have done). Speaking of which, Andrew Haslam (Greg Haslam's son) tweeted an excellent quote;

"The great irony of cessationism is that, in an effort to defend the Bible, one is actually teaching an unbiblical idea".

2. You carry on walking in faith hoping for more!

I must confess I have allowed the absence of God's wonderful manifest Presence (aside from touches such as at "Together on a Mission 2011" in Brighton) to first spur me, then hurt me, then wound me, and gradually make me almost wonder if we are in an Ezekiel 8:12 position. It would be easier to adjust theology to meet my (desired) lack of experience - I could join the ranks of "restless reformed Calvinists" conference hopping.

But Matt's song does not allow such a change of theology;

"Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name".

Ironically here's the Brownsville Revival singing it;

So I asked myself (while sweating and in pain on the treadmill) - does the absence of His manifest Presence get included here? It's got to hasn't it. "My heart will CHOOSE to say". I would rather keep on believing in the God I read of in the Bible. The God who it is said of; "the more glorious covenant". Reading the Bible speaks volumes of an interventionist God who loves to encounter His people! Some of my favourite quotes on this;

"The essence of the Christian position is experience - experience of God! It is not a mere intellectual awareness or apprehension of truth. That can be of the devil ... If the experience is not an experience of the living God through His Son who has come to live and to die again in order to give it; if it is not through the Holy Spirit, it is not a true Christian experience" - Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

"Yet the great need of the hour is for thousands of men and women in this generation to encounter God in the way that Isaiah did and be overwhelmed with God's glory as a result. Only this will result in the kind of Church we all long to see and only this will produce the kind of joy, lasting happiness and peace that the world so craves but is never able to manufacture. Real joy - the God kind - doesn't come in a bottle, can't be swallowed in pill form, can't be injected and won't be found in any thrill-seeking endeavor anywhere in the world. Pure joy is only found in the Presence of God". Greg Haslam.

However ...

My concern is that we must not use the sovereignty of God and His right to manifest Himself when He so pleases to excuse our pleading and "knocking on Heaven's door" (or banging on heaven's door in some cases). It was interesting the next song on my iPod was this;


dave bish said...

Richard Sibbes explores this in considering the absence of Him in the fifth chapter of The Song.

Dan Bowen said...

Ah mate - thanks for this.

The proof is there once again, the hideous criminal damage of removing this wonderful book from it's application to those of us who see it in it's true glory - speaking primarily of Christ and His Bride!

Wonderful! Thank you!