Thursday, December 28, 2006

God's Visitation

I came across the following quote which seemed to tie in with what we shared when we last met as a corporate group. It is from the book, "Permission Granted - to do church differently in the 21st century" by Graham Cooke/Gary Goodell. It describes some of the characteristics of the early Azusa Street Revival meetings, and their desire to keep the meetings 'open';

Those were Holy Spirit meetings, led of the Lord...
When we first reached the meeting, we avoided human contact and greeting as much as possible. We wanted to meet God first.
No subjects or sermons were announced ahead of time, and no special speakers. No one knew what might be coming, what God would do. We all wanted to hear from God, through whomever he might speak.
The meetings started themselves, spontaneously, in testimony, praise and worship We did not have to get one cue from some leader, yet we were free from lawlessness. Someone would finally get up, anointed for the message. All seemed to recognize this and gave way. It might be a child, a woman, or a man. No one wished to show himself. We only thought of obeying God. In fact, there was an atmosphere of God there that forbade anyone but a fool from attempting to put himself forward without the real anointing, and such did not last long. The Spirit ran the meeting from start to finish. There was no program, and hardly a chance for necessary announcements. There was neither pulpit, nor organ, nor choir.
God came so wonderfully near us that the very atmosphere of heaven seemed to surround us. Such a divine "weight of glory" was upon us that we could only fall on our faces.
We had the greatest struggle with strange preachers who wanted to preach. Of all people, they seemed to have the least sense and did not know enough to keep still before Him. They liked to hear themselves. But many a preacher died to self in these meetings. The breath would be taken from them. their minds would wander, their brains would reel. Things would turn black before their eyes. They could not go on. I never saw one get by with it in those days. They were up against God. He wound them up in short order. They were carried out dead, spiritually speaking. they generally bit the dust in humility.
Frank Bartleman.

This passage no doubt raises some questions, but what struck me most was the people's expressed hunger for God himself, and God's deep desire to visit his people. May such a hunger grow in us, may we be moved to pray and seek his face, and may he be pleased to visit us in such a way that we be transformed and he be glorified in us.