Friday, October 05, 2018

Real Life @ Ferris State - Friday Night Notes

Real Life Campus Ministry @ Ferris State University

Linda and I are with Real Life Campus Ministry @ Ferris State University tonight.

We are speaking on the Presence of God, Presence-driven life and ministry, how to hear God's voice, and the gift of prophecy.

Here are notes from the talk I'll be giving tonight.

The Presence Motif in Scripture

“The theme of the presence of God is crucial to both the Old and New Testaments, serving in fact as bookends to the Christian Bible.” (Gordon Fee, Paul the Spirit, and the People of God)

From Genesis to Revelation (see Rev. 21:1-22:5) the focus is on God and his presence with people.

We see people yearning and fainting for the experiential presence of God.

Ps 84 -  How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Ps 84:10 - Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Ps 63:2 - I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran…

"Surely the LORD is in this place!" (Gen. 28:15-17)

The presence motif is the key to the book of Exodus.

That’s the cloud… that’s the fire.

In the First Testament the greatest thing for a person to know, experientially, is God’s presence. To experience God.
Hebrew “knowing” (yadah) is essentially experiential.

The worst thing that could happen to the God Movement would be for God's manifest presence to be withdrawn. (Ex. 33:15-16)

A.V. - Moses, In Exodus 33:15-16, appeals to God this way:  And Moses said to God, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” 

The presence motif is the hermeneutical key to the book of Exodus.

That’s the cloud… that’s the fire.

In Psalm 84:10 …  The reason “better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” is precisely because of God’s desired, radiant, earth-shattering presence. 

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

This is Isaiah ch. 6 – where Isaiah woefully wilts when he is encountered by the presence of God in the temple (Isaiah 6).

In the gospels the reason the Temple will no longer stand, said Jesus, is because the religious leaders “shut the door to the kingdom of heaven.”

          God’s reigning presence is no longer there!

“For the apostle Paul the Spirit, as an experienced and living reality, was the absolutely crucial matter for Christian life, from beginning to end.” (Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit In the Letters of Paul, 1.)
This is about the presence of God’s Spirit, not some theoretical understanding of God.
One of Christianity's great truths is that God has come to be with us, as "Emmanuel, God with us."

God comes to "make his home in us" (John 14).

Therefore, we are never alone.

Dallas Willard writes: "God is able to penetrate and intertwine himself within the fibers of the human self in such a way that those who are enveloped in his loving companionship will never be alone." (Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, p. 59).

This thing – the Presence of God…  this is our uniqueness… this is our distinctive.

Our great distinctive is this: We have God and God's presence. 

I believe that, for the most part, it is experience, and not theory, that breeds conviction.
It is one thing to talk about God and His love and power; it is quite another thing to encounter and experience the Living God. 

Don't mistake God’s presence for performance.

When it comes to leading church…  “Presence” comes before Purpose.

It comes before “Programs.”

"Christian communities will be able to survive and thrive in contemporary societies only if they attend to their “difference” from surrounding cultures and subcultures.

The following principle stands: whoever wants the Christian communities to exist must want their difference from the surrounding culture, not their blending into it." (Volf, Miroslav. A Public Faith, p. 81)

E. Stanley Jones, a Christian missionary to India, once asked Gandhi the following question: "How can we make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government and a foreign people, but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India's uplift?"

Gandhi apparently responded to this question without hesitation, offering four pieces of advice; he's quoted as saying, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down.

 God’s presence can win the day in our current cultural wars.

The presence of God advertises itself.

We don't need to promote God, right? I mean, if it's really God that shows up and inhabits the house, the word will get around just fine without advertising. The presence of God advertises itself. Focus on God's presence and your church's advertising budget will shrink to $0.

You don't have to advertise a fire.

For more detail see:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church