Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Restoration of Normal Church (The Presence-Driven Church)

Image result for john piippo kingdom
I took this photo of the door to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem

I cannot predict what God is going to do. God's knowledge and ways are infinitely beyond mine. So, I must let go of the need to know.

This is not easy, but it is the Big One when it comes to Normal Church. This is exemplified in the old saying, "Let go, and let God." 

Doing this means letting go of our own agendas and our need to control things. For pastors, it means giving Sunday mornings over to God.

This past Sunday morning at Redeemer, as far as I can tell, we let go, and let God. And God did beautiful things, including healing some people. 

We have seen this before. Yet this past Sunday felt different to me. This felt difference is happening in me today. A beautiful residue remains in my heart, and it is changing things.

On Mondays, I pick up my studies and prayers for the coming Sunday sermon. I work on the biblical next I am going to preach on. I immerse myself in the verses. I carry them with me. I pray them. I love doing this. I want to rightly handle God's beautiful truths. But yesterday things felt different. I felt tension. I felt a tug, a pulling, from God. A holy unsettledness, a whisper of desolation.

I have spent decades growing in my understanding of hearing God's voice. I have prayed for countless hours. I've read the historical and contemporary literature on listening to God. I am still learning how to do this. I can hear wrongly. I can read into things that are not there. And, I have had many moments where, as far as I can tell, God is shepherding me by communicating to me.

It happened yesterday, again. 6:45 PM, March 13, 2017.

God told me something. I was prepared for this. I thought it was going to happen.

"John, you are not going to preach on what you had planned for. You are going to preach again on healing and the atonement. I have much more I want to do with you and your people."

I knew it! On hearing this, uncertainty became knowledge. The whisper of desolation became the clarity of consolation. God is manifesting his presence, and he is leading us. God is restoring Normal Church. This is never a little thing, even when it happens to little people.