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Friday, June 21, 2019

Born to Awareness


We have got it all wrong.
Our approach to the Christian Life.
The teachings of most churches and Bible schools.
The ways we read and study ... we have got it all wrong.

We can define everything while possessing nothing in the realm of the Kingdom.

When we were born into the New Life we were born into awareness -
a Knowing that the Old had passed and a New Life was given us.
At the moment of our birth we became aware of the difference between right and wrong. 
We became aware of a new Life with new horizons, and new pathways.
At the moment of our birth there was no doubt shadowing the horizon,
no fear lurking at our feet.

The invitation and the challenge always is, "As ye have received Christ so walk ye in Him" (Col. 2.6) 
He is the Light to lighten all our days.

God's Light shines on these lives of ours, we but it is so easy to let men separate us from this simplicity.
It is so easy to believe men who "teach" us of the importance of having other men to guide us, and keep us safe in our pathway.

It is a tragedy to depend upon laws, principles and teachings to protect us.
It is a tragedy when this need for "safety" leads us to abandon our dependence upon the Spirit of God.
It is a tragedy when a man returns to the confines of the pit from which he was delivered, 
and depends upon the old man-made traditions to interpret the new realm of divine life.

Like the mariner who crossing an ocean is guided by the stars, nothing in the boat, nothing of all our human cargo can guide us,
- we must lift our eyes to He Who is Above it All.
He is the One Who guides into all Truth:
     in Him dwells all Fullnes, 
          all the answers for all our needs, 
               all the strength for all our battles, 
                    all the Light and all the faith we can ever need. 

"Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith." (Heb. 12.2)





Saturday, June 15, 2019

Remembering Leonard


Well over a century has passed since my father was born in 1907 -
and almost a quarter of a century has passed since he left us in 1994.

Today his birthday approaches once more, 
     and I look back at his Life and his Ministry.
          I am not seeking to praise or vindicate him  - 
any attempt to lift up a man is ultimately a sort of blasphemy against God.

I only try to vindicate the office of the prophet - and the God he served,
and to show that the austere separation which marked his life was a necessary part of the pursuit of his vision.
Also, I have the hope that for some his example would quicken a Calling, and shine a light upon a Pathway.

The thing which set him apart was his Vision of God
     - and the Passion of that Vision.
The thing that set him apart was a Calling
     - and an Empowering.

The Message which flowed from him was an Overflow of the burning within him,
and the Flame which touched other lives was the Flame with which he lived until the end.

God entrusted him with a heavenly message, 
for "a sick church in a dying world."
The things he proclaimed while he walked in our midst 
have grown from seed to full maturity in our time.
What he saw coming is now upon us.

Years have been frittered away in chasing rainbow-hued soap bubbles, 
and left us without foundation to face the future.
We are being torn apart by a tornado of hell inspired, and hate filled, nightmares, masquerading as progress and enlightenment.

The march of time has lifted the the fog from the mountain, 
     and for those with eyes to see, there shines forth, naked, 
          a realization of where we really are 
               - and how far we are from the pathway.


We have been indifferent to what has been sown in our society -
but it will be impossible for us to remain indifferent as we begin to reap the harvest of our sowing.
Let us look again at the message from the past and re-examine ourselves.

There is hardly a single soul now alive who really knew my father and captured the depth of his message,
     - there was hardly a soul ready to walk the path that he walked, 
          and to pay the price which he paid throughout years.

Giovanni Papini hit on the truth when he spoke of the misfortune of great men in having disciples 
-those followers who convinced themselves that they had captured the message, 
and understood the truth spoken by the master;
those who had somehow persuaded themselves that they were capable of transmitting the message to mankind.

Prophets were unique men who walked alone, and for that reason they were rejected by the "mainstream" of the unseeing masses.
There could be no middle ground for them - what they saw in God was either a "yes" or a "no" ... without condition or compromise.

Isaiah saw the temple doors shudder at the presence of God.
To my father there was given something of a like vision, 
and I think if he were permitted to return today, 
he would echo the word of Isaiah with a cry from the depths of his soul which would reach the very throne of God ... "Woe........" (Isaiah 6)

Let me conclude here with what I wrote in this blog two years ago about my father:


Leonard as I saw him
Over the years since my father, Leonard Ravenhill, passed on to be with his Master there have been inquiries about his life, his trajectory, and the spring of his ministry.

I am hesitant as I start to write a few words at this time - hesitant as I attempt to show something of which I know so little.
I knew my father perhaps as well as anyone among us, and yet there
was a part of him which was hidden from view, a part which was forged by God through the years of his life.

I am hesitant also as I put in words something which some readers will examine looking for a secret to copy, while the Way of the Spirit is still as the wind; and we still cannot "tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth."
I am hesitant too because there are very few whose eyes have been opened to see and understand the realm of the Spirit of God which was the fount from which his life drew its meaning.
With the hesitation there is also a hope that some who read may see beyond the enclosing framework of the words, and find a path; a path which is always open to the God Who desires to reveal Himself.
 
There was something placed within him by God which was unreachable to the understanding, and unfathomable to all man’s capacities of discovery.
From whence came the intensity of passion, the holy jealousy, the consuming discipline to spend long hours of searching, prayer and supplication until the very end?
From whence came the the burning words, and the incandescence of spirit?
The things which worked this nature within him could barely be traced; he hardly spoke of the processes in his own life.
The merest of glimpses of the workings were to be seen - and one cannot know the part these things played in what God was doing in his life:
When as  a youth praying in the woods he suddenly found himself speaking in a language unknown.
When as a  young evangelist who, before he ever preached, sang his way across England.
The time  praying with his companions in evangelism when a visible flame was seen to touch each head.
The time he found faith for healing in a tent meeting when asked to pray for a woman bound in her wheelchair.
The time as pastor finding faith for his church -  faith for deliverance from lameness for a girl who dragged herself around with her hip on the floor - faith for deliverance, from insanity, from cancer.
The time when freed from his church connections he stepped out alone and ministered night after night in an apple storage shed in the Irish countryside.
What was the inner impact upon him there as he saw God come to the area, bringing fruits that yet remain?
The time preaching in the United States when he had to jump from the window of a burning hotel, and then spend months in bed-bound recuperation.
There was a rising from his bed at one or two in the morning, interrupting his sleep night after night through the later years of his life, as he looked for God's revelation.

These were some of the outward events, but through the passing years God wrought in him an ever growing awareness of the nature of God, and the dimension of His kingdom.
Through it all there was an awareness of the weight of the responsibility of his calling, and a faith in God’s ability to see it through.

Over the course of his life he worked with different church groups, and then once and again had to turn and leave them and go on alone with his vision of God.
He saw God as Absolute and His will as Non-negotiable.
The leader of one group confessed to my father with tears that his organization needed that which he had told them twenty years previously - but the moment had passed, now it was twenty years too late.
The leader of another organization lost his life after not paying heed to a warning from my father.
​​
When he heard another Voice he had to ​​leave behind people he loved, and ​follow ever onward in a consuming vision of God and His kingdom.
An inner quickening of the Spirit held him responsible for different horizons than ​those​ around him - and he walked in freedom.
​When ​his ministry led him away from England to the United States ​he​ went forward into a new stage of his life as a Voice.

I believe he saw the past experiences of his life not as destinations, but merely as milestones in a continually unfolding pilgrimage.
​​He came with a message to the churches and to the nation - a message of repentance, surrender and holiness, always exalting the Lord above all.
It was a message whose aim was revival, a desire that God Himself would come and make things right and show forth his glory.

His was a lonely walk sustained only by the life that God allowed him more and more to understand and to possess.
There was a spiritual dimension, or rather, a dimension of the Spirit.
That which produced the volcanic flow of words was something which sprang forth as God saw the inner longings, sighs and groanings of his heart.
This was a portion which set him apart, a portion found alone with God - although somehow down through history it has always been the portion of men who truly met God.

At the end of his pilgrimage... let me quote from my wife:
"In the last months of his life he would repeat, in a sort of rapture of new discovery, the words of Paul to Timothy, “The blessed and only Potentate. The blessed and only Potentate”.
Here, he who was gifted with a beautiful ability to express his thoughts, found himself with no words to add.
His was merely to proclaim, and repeat again, what he had heard, and what he had seen, as the answer to the condition of a fallen world... ”The blessed and only Potentate.”

Standing by his bedside during his last days, although he was unable to speak and hardly able to move an arm, one was aware of​ an awesomeness about him.   
David Wilkerson expressed it best when he visited and said: "There is a sense of the holiness of God in this place."
Yes, you were not by a sick and dying man, you felt you were in God's sanctuary where there was a constant dialog​ue between the Lord and His servant.
We played recordings ​of the hymns he so loved.   
I was holding  his hand once while we listened, but then he freed his hand from mine and lifted it to heaven...  Worshiping ...
H​e continued to worship His majesty, from a spirit now so free. The moment was sublime!!!
What perfect submission to His will… what perfect communion...
I wonder now, was that uplifted hand also talking to me? Was he begging me to turn my eyes and my concern away from him and to fix them on the Lord?
Was the hand uplifted in worship also his last message to me, to us?
He had pleaded that we would take the Lord as our all in all - now He was all he had, and he was satisfied​.

He left us on a Sunday - the Lord’s day.
He left us at twelve noon - when the sun was at its height, and the day was perfect.
He left us when the Father called him home.
As he parted, triumph surrounded us, and peace, and glory, and heavenly joy in an inexplicable consciousness."

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Coming to Revelation


Moses shoes had carried him through the desert,  
     uphill and down,
          over the rocks and the gullies,
until they brought him to the burning bush
- the sacred place where revelation awaited.

Now comes God's first word of direction, it was:
'Come no further, take off your shoes'. (Ex. 3.5)

Those shoes which had carried Moses to this place were to be left aside,
     and he was to stand on the bare ground in his bare feet -
          in an unimpeded contact with God's reality.

I wonder if we are able to have any concept of the revelation which awaits us in God's world,
     on the far side of the removal of our shoes -
          when we dispose of the things which we rely upon,
               the things which have carried us to this point in our lives.

Probably we have a whole collection of shoes ...
     of doctrines ... education ... books read ... sermons heard 
          ... input from "mentors" ... our own set ideas,
                and our fears, hopes and ambitions.
                     Upon these shoes our lives depend.

But we can never approach the burning bush with shoes on our feet.
And we will never be able to hear the message of the burning bush 
until we rid ourselves of all the external and internal things upon which we lean.

Only here can there be an empowerment for the waiting challenges, and the future journey.

     This is the place where God Himself speaks.

               And it is here that a new stage of life begins.



 



Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Greater World



How much we think we know,
     of the things of God,
          of the Word of God, 
               of the thoughts of God. 

But how much we depend upon our minds to illuminate that which we know not.
Time after time we hear men giving their opinions and interpretations,
of things which they have never touched of the realm of God, 
and teaching things they have never learned by the Spirit of God.

 Knox, in his "Englishing" of the bible translates 1Cor. 2.14
"Mere man with his natural gifts cannot take in the thoughts of God’s Spirit; ... he cannot grasp them, because they demand a scrutiny which is spiritual."
There is a world greater than the one which our eyes behold.
     There is a greater Life than that which this world knows.
          There is a greater Kingdom than all the kingdoms of men.
And it is all "ungraspable" to human efforts. -
a man "cannot grasp them" no matter how he tries,
no matter how convinced he is of his ability to understand.

Our calling is to the realm beyond our human capacities
- a realm lit by the light of heaven.

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." (1Co. 2.12)
There is no other way.
All human efforts, travail and strife are useless.

Heaven is lit by God's light, 
and so is the kingdom of God in the hearts of His own.

There lies before us a Life,
     a Choice,
          and a Destiny.
Let us choose the heavenly.
     Let us lift our eyes above all else
          for in the kingdom of God, looking is Living.


















Friday, May 31, 2019

Finding

Years have passed since Tozer, my father, and others, spoke a clear message of warning to the church.
Their word was for their time.
Their generation has passed and the time of warning has passed.

Now, as in the times when the Old Testament prophets spoke, there are no  second chances.

Now we have church whose main aim is to keep the people happy at all costs...
nobody wants to give the bad news ... nobody wants to awaken.
God's judgements are as sure as His promises, and not a whit less.

For the follower of God some things are sure:
God is an unchanging God,
and His love and care for His own is unchanging.

"Surely," says Isaiah.
"Surely He hath borne our griefs." (Is. 53.4)

In a a world grown weary, stumbling in darkness, 
a world where "all things are valid" but none provide solutions,
the Word of God endures unchangeable.
Heaven and earth may pass away but this "surely" can never pass.

The saints of bygone ages were spoken of as being conscious of heaven opening at their right hand and hell opening at their feet.
That is to say that they were always conscious, in all their days, of living in the presence of eternal certainties.
There is no greater consciousness than this - an awareness of Reality!

How great is the danger of the loss of this consciousness.
     Our lives and our prayers depend upon us being awake!

Why does the apostle cry to us to awake? (Eph. 5.14)
It is because he sees we are asleep - 
     lulled into unawareness by our surroundings ... 
          an unawareness which is a foretaste of death.

Heaven will be the great awakening ... no more night ... no more sleep.
But Light is also the portion of God's provision here ... clarity and vision in place of shadows.

Each one of us must find God for himself.
     God speaks to each person in an individual way -
          a way he will understand.

All our learning and all our endeavors fall short in the knowledge of God.
     The secret is in the focus of our attention and nothing more. 
          The aim is not "learning" all about Him,
               but "being" like Him.
Beyond knowledge, Transformation is God's gift to His own.


"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, 
     are changed into the same image from glory to glory, 
          even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2Cor 3.18)





Sunday, May 26, 2019

Looking ... at Tragedy


I'm looking ...
Looking for God.
Looking for meaning.
Looking for something that makes sense.
Looking for a way forward in the midst of a world of confusion.

What do I see?
I see a church which is lost.
I see leaders who are lost.

I see preachers who cling to and emphasize past doctrines and interpretations,
without manna to meet the needs of a world around.
I see "prophets" who speak of a future, and declare it at the doors,
if not already upon us, 
incapable of seeing a world descending headlong into darkness.

One part of the church is on a mission to preserve "orthodoxy",
while another part of the church is on a mission to escape reality.

Neither of these two opposing groups seem to hear the cry of the Spirit,
nor sensing the burden of the times.

The "traditionalists" are with their heads in the sands, 
engaged in defense against any "new thing."

The new "prophets" are seeking only a new thing,
untethered to the age-abiding realities of the Bible's guidance and warnings.

Both traditionalists and "prophets" have their followers hanging, with open mouths and happy faces, upon their every word.

One group does not contemplate the fact that their orthodoxy is not bringing any change to the world around.
The other group does not see in spite of prophecies declared imminent and at the point of fulfillment for years,  
     we we still await, and live in a worsening world, 
          and a more fallen society by the day.

Knowing prophecies without knowing the times can only bring confusion and disillusionment.

Without the leading of the Spirit of God we are led either by our minds or by our emotions - and this is the reason for the state of the church of God today.

Is there revelation for today?
Is there a message of God for today?
Why then are we so caught up in man-generated schemes,
and trying to build a church with other words and another spirit?

Is the weariness, the scorn, the indignation and hurt of it all just something that I feel?
Or is the hurt of this wrong something felt by God?

Where is the Living Word in our midst?
How can we keep getting it all so wrong? 
Is it really so easy to miss the way, or have we been led astray by our own hearts desires?

Somehow in the midst of the multitude there must be a people whose hearts are calling them away from men's parades,
     men's dogmatism,
          men's pride.
There must be those whose hearts are calling them to reality,
     to a place where they are free to follow God alone, 
          and to hear His voice speaking in the midst of the confusion.







Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Flesh and Spirit


My father used to tell about a member of a church which he pastored 
     coming once and again with a prayer, 
          "Lord teach us what is flesh and what is spirit, 
               Lord teach us how to bind and how to loose."

The first, and principle battle for the believer,
     is the battle to break loose from the realm of flesh we inherit, 
          and to find the realm of the  Spirit of God. 

Jesus spoke of the impossibility of a rich man entering into the kingdom of God,
and later explained to the disciples that only God could do it. (Mk. 10.25-27)
This applies to earthly riches, but we could say also that the man who thinks he possesses spiritual riches finds it impossible to lay them down - unless there is a real, intense working of God within him. 

Our "callings" and "gifts" so easily become things which "belong" to us, 
and we are so loathe to lay them down for the promise of that which we do not yet possess.

I believe it was Gregory Mantle who said words to the effect that there must be great renunciations before there can be great attainments in Christ.

God's world is infinite and "there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed." (Jos. 13.1)

True Light, true power, true authority and grace, 
     lie on the far side of total surrender.
God will do His work in our lives, and through our lives,
     when He alone fills all our vision, 
          and when He alone directs our steps.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Encounter ...


"Let there be light." (Gen. 1.4)
These are the first words spoken by God in the Bible.

The darkness existed in the vast emptiness, 
     and the Light was as yet unknown.
Here, from the very nature of God, 
     a greater force than darkness was released,
          and darkness was banished.

As in nature, so in the realm of the spirit,
     darkness exists but light must be created.
All the Bible echoes with the theme - an eternal battle between two immensely
powerful forces.
All through the Bible men echo the cry, 
in a search for the clarity of Life.

"Where is the way where Light dwelleth?" (Job 38.19)
Light is when who I am, meets who He, God, is. 
           It is a meeting between infinite Provision and infinite Need,
                between the measurelessness of Eternity and the poverty of Time.
 .
Beyond the demonstration of God's power in this working,
this encounter with Infinite Love and Infinite Grace impacts and transforms.

Here is a seeing of all that in which we have dimly believed without seeing - 
a place where all imaginings are swallowed up and lost in the Greater Reality of God Himself.
The Light which we have dimly seen among the shadows is there made brighter than the noon-day sun.

The sands of time decline, and it is our lot to live in a darkening world.
The call of God is to a people who will respond and unceasingly seek until they find in Him,
     beyond all weakness,
          and beyond all excuses,
               and beyond all the enemy's opposition
                    the all-encompassing,
                         all transforming revelation,
                              of the True Light, in His coming to them.

 

 
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What would be Left If?




What would be left if...?
We have all heard the question, "What would be left if the Holy Spirit were taken away from our churches?"
 ... and we are all familiar with the answer, "not very much would change because, in reality, there is only a very minimal activity of the Holy Spirit in our churches."
Maybe we could more easily find our true state if we were to examine each phase of the church’s activity from another aspect... by turning the question around and asking ourselves:
"Where would we be if all of man's activity were removed from our churches?" 
What would be left if this were to take place? 
Who is behind each determination that is taken... is it God or is it man?
So much of our outreach appears to spring more from human sympathy, 
than from a quickening of the Holy Spirit in the heart.
So much of our work from a loyalty to a decision of policy, 
than from the will of God.
So much in our meetings, our ministries, our missions and our desire for revival, gives the impression of being born of a desire to set the earth of mankind right - rather than a desire to see things set in harmony with the will of heaven.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem there was a moment when the vision and proclamation of the prophet was fulfilled, and the darkness lifted from hearts of the Jews. 
In that unique moment of revelation their cry was, "peace in Heaven."
Pascal said something to the effect that all of earth's pain is first felt in heaven. 
If this is true then our burden should be to "set heaven right."
Going back to our question: I believe we would do well to ask ourselves, "What would be left if... ... ?" 
And apply this question to each aim, each project, each meeting.
What would be left of our music and praise if we took away all the psychological components of beat, syncopation, flourishes, "the sound attack" -- the whole idea of bodies trying to push souls along... and souls trying to push the spirit along?
What would be left of our preaching if only the message from God were left? If there were not built on technical or theological explanations? 
-- And if we left out all of the illustrations and stories geared to the emotions. 
Again, have we put the cart before the horse here too? 
Is it man or the Holy Spirit who leads the way in our endeavors to transmit the truth?
What about the place of the pastor himself? 
Sometime ago someone told me, they were sick of the adulation given to leaders. 
What if ministers were judged only on the merits of the presence of God in their lives - would there be anything left? 
If pastors were to lose the consciousness of "being really something," capable and sufficient - would there be anything left?
We could look at many things in our churches, but let's leave this by asking ourselves... Could it be that we are like the church at Laodicea not knowing that we are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked?"
I believe that many who have spoken of the glorious work of God in these coming days have perceived a measure of truth. 
However, while we have heard of the need of emptiness, death, and poverty of spirit there seems to have been almost no idea of the extent to which God needs to destroy...to totally annihilate...the false within our lives and within the church. 
There is perhaps a belief that out of this church God will cause to spring forth a new and glorious body. 
Brethren, I believe there are many, many, many things which will have to be burned until not even the ashes are left.
         God will raise up for Himself 
(and it will be after our churches, institutions, society and nation, and our own nature passes through His fire,) 
a church birthed and raised up by Himself alone: 
A church that does not have to bow the knee.
To any man,
To any organization, or
To any of the policies designed to help it along in unity 
and fellowship with those who follow "another gospel".
After the destruction and death there is a third day of resurrection when God "will raise us up and we shall live in His sight" (Hosea 2:2). 
A new life,
in a new church,
for a new day.