Saturday, June 29, 2019

Stepping Out

"Come..." (Mt. 11.28)

We can look at it in different ways, and on different levels,
but there is a stark simplicity in the invitation - 
a coming from, and a coming to.

It is not the complicated things which trip us up,
it is the simple things which undo us.
The mind of man delights to try to discover the "deep" things,
the hidden meanings, the unexplained prophecies.

Our problem is not that we need more understanding; 
our first need is for more obedience in the simple rudiments.

In every person there seems to be some kind of "hangup" or other ...
areas where we cannot advance, not because of the enemy's opposition,
but because of our own inner restrictions.

Behind it all there is a fear.
There is a fear of leaving the things to which we hold, 
our ambitions, our fairy-tale concepts of what faith is, 
our holding on to our own will and way.
We fear to let go, even if those things over the length of time, have failed to lead us forward one single step in the exploration of the infinite realms of God.

In the "coming" there must be a stepping out from the realm of our doubts and fears.
There must be a believing and a commitment to the  thing which God sets before us.

Abraham "obeyed and went out, not knowing whither he went." (Heb. 11.8)
This is the way, leaving it all behind:
the good and the bad,
the positive and the negative, 
the hopes and the fears,
the future which we see in a place and a position. 

"Come unto Me" said Jesus.
This is a simple statement, a simple truth,
and yet even within the church countless multitudes have never possessed it.
We have no idea the extent to which our life is built up of concepts which hold us in iron chains.
We are able to read the verse and yet, on a deep instinctive level,
we are so harnessed to the horizons of our existence that we never really set the statement before us,
nor do we to consider what it entails, or what it promises.

"Come ... and I will give you Rest."
Like the neighbor I mentioned in the last blog,
it is possible to go to church for years,
to hear the news of the gospel and the promises of God,          
and yet ... never really come to the truths of the Kingdom of God 
and find them to be infinite Life for our souls. 

Oh, that we could "come" with all we have and all we lack.
Oh, that we could leave it at His feet,
Oh, that we could lift our eyes to the infinite, eternal rest,
from all our burdens too heavy for mortal man to bear. 

          Eternity will not be too long
               to explore the measurelessness 
                    of the meaning of God's rest.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

God in the Midst

We heard a testimony from a neighbor this morning.
This is a neighbor lady, who just moved in, with many years of faithful church going behind her.
"I never had two days like these two days," she said.  
"I was invited to this little new church and for first time in my life I knew what  the peace of God is.  
In the past I have been prayed for and experienced deliverances, and healings,  
but I had never experience the peace, the PEACE of God.  
I have spent these days praising, singing and overwhelmed by the peace of God." 
She wanted to say so much more but was lacking words to express all it meant to her.  
She kept on repeating, "He said, 'My peace I give unto you, not as the world'..."

Once again it was impressed upon me,
the tremendous difference which comes when the working of God is real.
I wonder how many, like my poor neighbor, go to church week after week, 
and year after year, and yet never know the working of the Spirit of God ministering within, where life really happens.
The outward forms and observances,
     the "church going" and the church talk,
          has failed to provide an answer.

So many times I have thought of the things God bestows upon us as places in which God gives us to dwell -
My neighbor was taken from dwelling in unrest and fear to a place of peace.
She SAW Him as her Peace, and by His grace she can dwell in that place.

Likewise God has provided a place where I can dwell in the faith of the Son of God,
and a Place where I feel secure in the Love and Care of God,
and a Place where Revelation abounds as sure as the rising of the sun at break of day,
and a Place where the Spirit of God leads and sheds Light on all my way.

This is the unfailing certainty,
     this is the anchor.
It is not anything that we are,
     nor is it anything that we can learn or do.

These are places of God's impartation -
     places beyond the reach of sins destruction, or time's decay.
Places where Life is sure with an eternal certainty,
     and where Life grows from day to day from a never failing supply.

All that God gives us never changes, because God never changes.

          "He leadeth me  ... He restoreth my soul." (Ps. 23.2,3)

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.