Tag Archives: Presence of God

Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 7)

In January 1995, I dated a wonderful woman, thinking we would marry. Many prophetic words had been given to me about marriage to a godly woman. Every word seemed to point to her as my bride…or at least, I thought so.

I spoke aloud to the Lord one night while driving my truck home from the lady’s apartment.

“Jesus, You need to get us married as quickly as possible,” I said.

My truck cab instantly filled up with laughter, as if heaven dropped an amplifier and speaker into my truck, turning it up full blast. The laughter was the “hold your belly and roll on the floor” type. And it continued and continued.

I pulled my truck over to the side of the highway because the contagious laughter caused tears to run down my cheeks. I turned on the truck’s hazard blinkers and sat there, laughing along with heaven.

It finally ceased and I resumed driving home. I then wondered, is the Lord laughing because He knows something, which I don’t know yet. Or is He just happy for me?

I ignored the former and opted for the latter.

One obstacle after another frustrated our relationship over the following fourteen months. I figured more fasting and prayer would eventually break the logjam of spiritual warfare thwarting our relationship.

(An excerpt from The Hunt for Larry Who (a Memoir) by Larry Nevenhoven, © 2014, Amazon eBook)

It’s easy to forget that the Lord has a fabulous sense of humor. In fact, who created humor and laughter? Certainly not Satan, but instead it was God.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. (Proverbs 17:22 NLT)

(Conclusion for now…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 6)

One of the great ironies of Christianity is that believers are always in His presence:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Each believer is God’s earthly temple. We consist of a body, soul, and spirit, which is akin to the Outer Court, Inner Court, and the Holy of Holies in the Old Testament’s Temple. Just like the OT Temple, God dwells in our personal Holy of Holies or spirit man. But unlike the OT Temple, there is no veil stopping us from entering into our personal Holy of Holies whenever we want to do so.

Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century monk, wrote The Practice of the Presence of God. The classic book is a compilation of his letters about how to be mindful of the Greater One’s presence each day. In a nutshell, Brother Lawrence conversed with God all day long.

Maybe that sounds too easy, but here is what Paul the Apostle wrote:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6)

If you were around me very much, you would notice that I do this all throughout the day. I just simply say, “Lord, I need Your right now” or “Lord, help me” or “Lord, I need Your peace and grace right now” and so forth.

Does the Lord show up on a white horse as soon as I speak?

So far, this hasn’t happened but what does happen is that I’m instantly aware of His life-giving presence within me. Does this happen every time? Yes, it does because of His promise to us:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

But there is the other side of this amazing divine irony of God’s presence.

(Continued in Part 7…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 5)

One thing I observed in those meetings [in Lakeland, Florida], I have observed ever since I’ve been a Christian. Namely, a large portion of the Christian population is seeking a fresh touch from God. They are seeking to experience His presence. 

Some, however, appear to be almost pathologically dependent upon trying to “feel” God’s presence. For these souls, “feeling” the presence of the Lord becomes a benchmark to measure their spiritual condition.

I spent most of my early Christian life drinking deeply from the wells of a particular movement that stressed the miraculous power of God. While I learned many valuable lessons in that movement, I also have a few reservations. One of them is that the propensity to seek “the felt-presence of God” in that movement is central and overwhelming.

I watched many Christians struggle with this quest to the point of concluding that something was wrong with them — that God loved them less — all because they weren’t “feeling” or “sensing” His presence on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I have known Christian women and men who were utterly devoted to the Lord, extremely gifted, spiritually insightful and fruitful. Yet in private, their confession was that they had never “felt” the presence of God.

I’ve also personally known Christians who were in dire spiritual straits. Some were living double lives. Yet they didn’t wince at their poor condition, because during the worship service or prayer times they regularly “felt” the presence of God.

This being said, I believe there’s a great deal of confusion over the matter of God’s presence. Part of it is rooted in semantics. Another part is rooted in bad theology…

The Semantics of God’s Presence

Some Christians have a way of overstating their experiences.Others understate them. Multiple people may experience the exact same phenomenon — whether it be a church meeting, a conference, a retreat, a convention, a particular manifestation of the Holy Spirit, or a shared encounter.

One person may describe it as “unbelievable!” … “incredible!” … “awesome!” … “beyond description!” Another may describe it as “refreshing” …”enjoyable”… “encouraging”  … “delightful.” Still another may describe it as “good” … “fine” … “a blessing.”

Point: People often use very different vocabulary to express the exact same thing. For instance, Watchman Nee used a unique phrase when he referred to his fellowship with the Lord. He called it “touching the Lord.” Others use the phrase “sweet communion.” Others use “divine encounter.” Others use less phenomenological phrases.

To describe fixing one’s heart upon the Lord, some people use the phrase “turning to the Lord.” Others use the word “gazing.” Others say “beholding” or “looking into the face of God.” Still others say “contemplating,” “centering,” “abiding,” or “partaking.” Others describe it as “meditating.” By and large, it’s semantics.

I’ve observed this phenomenon all my Christian life. People express the same experiences differently. This is due to many varied factors, some of which are the person’s temperament, the specific vocabulary of one’s religious tradition, or a specific “effect” they wish o have on those who hear them testify. (Sometimes this isn’t so well motivated.)

(Revise Us Again: Living from a Renewed Christian Script by Frank Viola, Published by David C. Cook, 2010, Chapter 6)

I recommend Frank Viola’s Revise Us Again. It’s a great book.

(Continued in Part 6…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 4)

 

One of the prominent ministers of the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) was Evan Roberts.

It was a supernatural experience to be in an Evan Roberts’ meeting. He carried the ability to usher in the presence of the Holy Spirit as almost a tangible force. He made the common church-goer aware of the spirit world, especially in the area of purity and holiness toward God. Since he rarely preached, Evan allowed three female singers – Anna Davies, Maggie Davies, and S. A. Jones – to travel with him. Many times they sang an inspired message from God to the congregation. Evan would rebuke anyone who tried to hush the singing. He believed the Holy Spirit should be given the primary role and that no one had the right to interrupt Him. He felt that so doing invited the wrong kind of authority and control.

To Evan, the Holy Spirit wasn’t some unseen force, but a Divine Person who must be praised and adored in His own right and totally obeyed. It even came to the point that when one or two people in the congregation wouldn’t participate, Evan would stand up and say, “The Spirit can’t be with us now.” Then, many times, he would leave the service.

It was common in Evan Roberts’ meetings for members in the congregation to suddenly fall on their knees and pray aloud. Waves of joy and sorrow would flood the congregation. Women fell on their knees and men laid in the aisles weeping, laughing, and praying. All the while, there was no Bible reading or instruments playing. A few were inspired to stand and sing hymns. It was even said that the people were so caught up in God that they would forget to go home for Sunday dinner. This was unheard of in southern Wales in those days. As the day progressed, the evening service would become a continual prayer service. Evan could be seen walking up and down aisles swinging his arms, clapping his hands, and jumping up and down.

Though his success had become the talk of the nation, many still didn’t know what to think of Evan Roberts. They were used to the fiery eyes of the old-time preachers, and Evan never raised his voice. Sometimes, he was called the “silent preacher.”

As a result of the Welsh Revival, local stores couldn’t keep Bibles in stock. The Welsh coal mining industry also took on a new look. Their workhorses had previously been trained to respond to instructions that included profanity. But with the coal mining crew now born again in the Revival, they found that their horses had to be retrained because the animals didn’t know how to follow normal commands without a curse word in it.

(Excerpt from God’s Generals by Roberts Liardon, Albury Publishing, © 1996 by Roberts Liardon, pages 87, 89).

Unlike most revivals, the Welsh Revival was not known for its great preachers, but rather for the presence of God.

Shouldn’t we hunger for the same today?

(Continued in Part 5…the full series to date can be read here.)

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Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 3)

Am I a mystic?

A couple of years after my first time of being gone in my prayer life, I mentioned my prayer experiences to another believer. Big mistake!

The supposed spiritual man was kind enough to listen to me before he gave his opinion. “Well, brother, this just doesn’t sound right to me. It sounds new-age or like mysticism. You’d better be careful. You wouldn’t want to get off the well-worn path, would you?” he said.

How could I answer him? I had no clue except to say that my experiences drew me closer to the Lord.

Fortunately, not too long after my discussion with this man, I listened to a teaching by Benny Hinn in which he talked about being in the presence of the Lord. His description of his prayer experiences matched mine almost to a tee. Rather than using the words of “being gone” like I did, he referred to it as “resting in the presence of the Lord where time no longer mattered because the Eternal One was there.” Much better use of scriptural sounding words!

King David talked often about the presence of the Lord in the Psalms:

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51:11)

Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:2)

But David also used metaphors to describe the presence of the Lord:

You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek. Hide not Your face from me. Turn not Your servant away in anger, O You who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! (Psalm 27:8-9)

The Hebrew word paniym is translated into the English word face in these verses, but the same word is translated into the English word presence in numerous other verses.

In other Psalms David used the terms secret place, shadow, and hiding place to describe the presence of the Lord.

Today, many believers use the term “intimacy” to describe their relationship with the Lord. Yet, sadly, many critics hate the term because it is not in the Bible. I would guess that believers who use the term “intimacy” are just trying to relate their experiences in the best way they know how as I did when I used “being gone” as a young Christian.

(Continued in Part 4…the full series to date can be read here.)

 

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Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 2)

My life really began on May 20, 1985, when I gave my life to the Lord. The following morning became Day #1 of my new life.

It all began with me jumping out of bed before 6 a.m. – a record for me. I brushed my teeth and went into the family room. I didn’t know what a new believer should do, but I felt I needed to do something. There was too much energy whirling inside me, which needed to be released. So, I sat on the sofa and began praying.

Don’t go thinking that I instantly became a prayer warrior because I certainly was not even close to being a person of prayer. You see, we can never  move ahead of the revelations we have of God. We must begin where we are at the time, which is not a problem for our heavenly Father because He looks at our hearts. He rewards us according to the light we have at any moment in our lives and encourages us to grow toward maturity.

Thus, I prayed something like this:

“Lord bless my  wife. Bless my son. Bless my daughter. Bless my dad. Bless my mom…” and so forth.

Within ten minutes, I had prayed for everyone that I knew, but even with such low level prayers, I felt His peace, love, and joy rise up inside me during this period of praying.

Along with a few small petitions scattered here and there, this is how I prayed for the first fifty days of my walk with the Lord. Also, I studied the Bible.

But on the fiftieth day – my personal Pentecost – I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18 NLT)

I took the above verse to heart, praying for everyone in tongues. I also worshipped the Lord by praying and singing in tongues. So, my prayer life was basically praying in tongues for about an hour.

Then one morning, the Holy Spirit enveloped me with His presence and I was gone. Gone? I don’t know a better way of explaining it then to say one moment I was praying and the next one I was in a place so wonderful that I never wanted to leave it. Did I see anything? Not really, but time seemed to stand still.

Afterward I checked my wristwatch and noticed that approximately thirty minutes had passed while I was gone. That first experience hooked me. I sought being gone in my prayer life every morning from then on.

(Continued in Part 3)

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Mountains Melt at the Presence of God (Part 1)

I was upset with God on that winter day in 1995. Things were not panning out quite the way I expected them to happen, not even close. I was thousands of dollars in debt, my friends had for the most part deserted me, and the woman who I thought would marry me didn’t even want to see me.

I sat by myself in that small upstairs apartment, near Iowa State University, reading a biography on John Lake’s life. As I turned the pages of the book, I decided to tell God exactly how I felt at that moment.

Standing up, I pointed my finger toward heaven. “Lord, I’m fed up with the way You’re running my life,” I said with foolish boldness. “In fact, I’m sick of it. If You’re the Creator of the Universe, why can’t You get me out of my problems in one day? Don’t You have enough power to do it by tomorrow? Or is Your arm too short? ”

I sat back down, quite satisfied with how I let God know my real feelings, and picked up the book again.

Much like it says in Acts 2:2 — And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind — God came into the room. His presence filled every part of the room with His holiness.

I dropped the book, fell to my knees on the floor, and wept. “O Lord, don’t kill me. Don’t kill me. Please don’t kill me,” I muttered over and over again.

You see, I knew I couldn’t live in that level of holiness for very long because of the sin in my life.

Then, the Lord spoke to my heart. “If I wanted to, I could deliver you out of your problems by tomorrow.”

“Yes, Lord, I believe that You could do that. Just don’t kill me.”

His heavy presence lifted off the room and eventually I stood up a changed man, much smaller in my own eyes than before that time.

This was an extreme example of God’s presence in my life, but interesting enough, it was God’s presence which came upon me as a young believer that drew me to love Him and desire to be with Him. And to be honest, if there is one thing that I hope I could somehow teach every believer: it would be to seek His presence.

The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. (Psalm 97:5)

(Continued in Part 2)

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