Format the same, experience different

I believe it is a sign that the church is being led by the Holy Spirit that I can be in worship one Sunday and be in a march across the county and the next Sunday in a love-in holding hands with angels (ok my imagination, indulge me) and knowing intimacy with the Holy Spirit as a dove (Psalm 68:13).  Yet nothing in the format of the meeting changed – same band, similar songs, mostly same congregation.  God having His way with His people.

I believe God showed me the way He sees things in a measure.  Whereas we hear the sounds and see the sights, He sees the relationships between the people.  No matter how professional the production, if  there is back biting and gossip, discord and anger God sees that.  What is pleasing to Him is the love being shared throughout the congregation.

Visions during Worship

Corporate worship where God is moving in the Spirit is amazing.  I am sure all sorts of things are happening while we worship that we are probably only dimly aware of.  For sure there is more going on than most of us realise.

This morning during worship I had a series of visions – or perhaps imaginings, maybe still valid for all that.   Hopefully the imaginings or visions are of the kind spoken of in Acts 2:17.  So here they are, judge for yourselves:

During the first part of the worship I found myself in the Spirit accompanying the Lord’s army going around Kildare from pagan high place to well taking them for the Lord.  There were not too many and the battles were not fierce though real enough for all that.  We raised some from the dead during that phase.

Afterwards I was shown another vision, this time of the religious strongholds throughout the county.  These were far more numerous and far more effective in keeping people bound in darkness.  They were like a grid upon the county, like a lattice keeping people in their graves. 

Then we got ready for battle and passed through the county breaking down the religious strongholds and releasing people out of their graves, raising them from the dead.  These battles were fierce and difficult.  Sometimes we had to fell the towers, putting a sledgehammer to the bases of them.

In the final phase there was a victory ride through the county following Our Lord on horse back, He of course on a white one.

Books and the Bible: The Shack

I’ve spent the last many years not reading books except the Bible and those connected to work with few exceptions (The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbons being one notable one).  However this year instead of my normal reading of the bible in a year (like for the last 30 years) I’m listening to it for most of the 2 hours every working day I spend travelling to and from work in my car.  The version I listen to is the excellent Word of Promise dramatised NKJV version which I would highly recommend.  The MP3 version is compact and great value.  I reckon I’ll have listened to the New Testament three times and the Old Testament twice at least before the end of the year. 

Another reason I haven’t been reading books is that I’ve found since children entered the equation I’ve wanted to prioritise my time.  Reading can be a rather solitary and selfish pastime if indulged in as much as I like to.  But with the time in the car freeing up reading time I have time to read some other books.

I believe God put The Shack my way for this time.  It’s been in the house for some months.  I started to read it over last weekend and found it hard to put it down and finished it on Monday evening.  I reckon I’ll read it again at least once which for me is the strongest recommendation I could give any book since I never do that except for the Bible of course :-). 

It is hard to explain why a book with so many so obvious heresies – some might say blasphemies – (God the Father being portrayed as a black African American woman being one of the more obvious ones) should be so witnessed to by the Holy Spirit when I’m reading it.  I guess He isn’t quite as defensive as we might be.  Maybe He feels He doesn’t have to be defensive.  I also believe God the Father can appear in any form He wants to to anyone, as obviously the authors of The Shack do too.

The section that stands out most for me and, on the surface at least, blessed me the most is the part where Mack is interviewed by Sophia, the personification of wisdom.  I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.

The Shack in combination with other events in my life at this time has left me with a deeper sense of God’s grace than I can remember experiencing before.  I feel more loved than ever.  It was definitely the right book at the right time.  I confess that had it come at an earlier time in my walk I may have been tempted to condemn it.  By earlier I mean last year…..

My apologies to anyone who has felt judged by me in the past.  Perhaps the biggest legacy The Shack has left with me is a realisation of just how much I’ve done that, how much it was a part of my approach to life and how wrong it is.

30 years since I was born again.. so what?, read the bible every year..pooey, listen to it for up to 2 hours a day… phoney.  All useless unless infused by love and grace.

Never mind, we’ll get there, won’t we Jesus?  Yes, He believes in me.