I just came back from a trip to Missouri as part of Bill Johnson's ministry team. Serving on Pastor Bill's team of seven students, praying for people for healing and impartation after he preached, having a lunchtime Q and A with him and receiving prayer from him was phenomenal. I will blog more about that, but in the meantime, I want to share why I came to think so much of this man and his ministry in the first place: he's all about the presence of God.
In the first month of school, we did a book report on what happens to be my favourite non-fiction book of all time, Face to Face with God. While I'm sure you're thinking that reading my book report is pretty dull reading, I thought I'd share it in our blog because it's a pretty personal glimpse into my own journey in intimacy with Jesus and I thought some of you might be interested.
When I first read Face to Face with God, it blew my mind. I read it about five years ago and I couldn’t put it down. When I read about the encounters with God that Bill Johnson describes, I realized it was something I’d always longed for but never knew I wanted. What I thought Christianity was suddenly seemed dry and empty compared to coming to the banquet table of God’s presence. I remember begging the Lord for encounters like I was reading about.
Now, re-reading the book five years later, it still stirs up the fires of longing inside me. I am even more hungry for Jesus than I was five years ago, only now it’s not a hunger based on desperation, but one based on having tasted and seen how good God is. I think when I first read the book, I was waiting for God to blow my mind with an experience like Pastor Bill’s in the middle of the night, as he describes in the first chapter, or an experience of being completely overcome like Heidi Baker, but I’ve come to realize that encounters with God look a little different for me.
When I was first filled with the Holy Spirit during a Dunamis course at my home church in Guelph, I felt electric jolts that felt like contractions or labour pains. A couple of years after that, I took six months off work to devote my days to prayer and during that period, I had moments when waves of Jesus' love would hit me with more ecstasy than I’d ever before experienced.
The theme of this year for me is intimacy and it's something I've made very intentional. I love to ask the Lord how He feels, or what’s on His mind. I want to know Him just for the sake of knowing Him, not with some end goal or task in mind. Recently, I was asking the Father what was on His mind and He was silent. Then my mind wandered to something that had recently hurt my feelings. Then I realized He wanted me to tell Him about it. When I did, I felt His love and compassion so overwhelmingly that I felt the tears of the emotional pain swallowed up in tears of gratitude at His kindness. Even though He already knows everything about me, He also wants to know me. He cares enough about the movements of my heart to want to hear about them directly from me. He wants me to make myself known to Him.
The other chapter that stood out for me was the one on the Presence “within” versus the “coming upon.” Sometimes it seems as though the focus at Bethel is the “coming upon,” which is astounding and beautiful, and I want to cultivate both. I want the Presence to be so cultivated within me that it’s not just about a moment of “coming upon,” but rather it’s about one flowing into another.
I love the chapter on love, power, character and wisdom. I have cried out for the Spirit of God to fill me with more love for people. There is such a vital connection between being face to face with Jesus
Face to Face with God reminds us that true character and wisdom don’t come from striving or work; the ability to manifest joy, peace and righteousness come from the Holy Spirit’s presence and enabling grace upon my life. I regularly cry out for supernatural wisdom, creativity and revelation during my times of intimacy and encounter with the Lord.
The book concludes with a chapter about how we were made to shine. I want to be like Moses, with a shiny face, descending daily from my mountain-top glory experiences with God with a radiant countenance, so that others might yearn for and pursue their own connection with my beautiful Friend.
** I have an extra copy of this book that I would love to mail to the first person who emails me requesting it. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org