Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coming Down The Mountain

I love worship!  I am a horrible singer, I don't play an instrument but I love worship!  I haven't always been that way.  In fact for a long time I couldn't figure out what all the hub-bub was about.  I had been raised in a climate of great worship and loved dancing to the music as a kid.  But as a teen you would find me sitting in the back of the service, mouth closed and arms crossed.  Then one day about twelve years ago I was in a worship service in Lausanne, Switzerland. {This was during a year of re-dedication for me. I did a 6 month discipleship school and a 3 month biblical studies course} It was during my first couple weeks there my attitude for worship changed.  During this one particular meeting they had moved all the chairs to the back of the room so that people could dance and really let loose; you know like King David.  However I found a chair in the back and sat in not ready to "let loose", you know like Michal{2 Sam 6:14-16}.

As I sat there I began to ask God why I was not able to worship like everyone else.  Everyone else was just going for it without a care about how they looked or sounded.  Total abandon.  Yet I so wanted to experience what they were experiencing.  Then God spoke very clear and very simple to me.  "I can only fill you to the capacity that you give Me.  I want all of you.  Are you ready to give all of you to get all of Me?"  I thought about that for a minute.  Thought about all the craziness I had been through in my teenage and young adult years.  I knew God was right{as usual}.  I knew I was holding back because of fear and that fear was the enemy keeping me from experiencing God they way I needed to.

So I stood up and began to worship.  First very quiet, hands at my side.  Then I closed my eyes and forgot about everyone around me.  The singing got louder, my arms stretched higher and tears began to flow.  I can't remember the song.  All I remember is that I got louder and louder and began to call out to God in total abandon and total desperation for Him to take ALL of me.  I remember my whole body feeling hot with the fire of God.  And then I dropped to the floor face down.  I couldn't move.  The Spirit of God was so heavy I couldn't even lift my head.  Oh and I was no longer speaking words that I could understand; my worship had turned to tongues.  That had never happened before!  I remember two of the leaders Darlene and Geeta coming over and beginning to pray for me.  Can't remember the actual prayers but I remember hearing "more" and "new" over and over again.

So there I was in front of everybody face down on the floor unable to move.  Crying out to God in this crazy language, face red and swollen from the constant tears, mucous running out of my nose down my face, clothes wet from the sweat, voice cracking and abandon!  It was AWESOME!  I have never been the same since.  A heart for ardent worship was birthed in me that day.  A new found tool for prayer, intercession and contending was birthed in me that day. A burden for others to experience God in His fullness was birthed in me that day.  I have held close to those things for the past twelve years.  In fact about a year after that experience I was led to do a three month school of intercession, worship and spiritual warfare in Israel because of what was birthed in me that day. Every time I let loose God is faithful to meet me there.  I love being in the presence and glory of my God.

The trick for me has been learning how to mobilize that glory and presence of God to go with me wherever I go.  For a while there I was spending all the time I could in prayer and worship, private and corporate, just to have that same experience.  And God met me there every time.  Awesome most every time.  But what I started noticing is that I was frustrated with life and the world "outside" the prayer and worship time.  I wanted to just stay in the awesome, powerful, warm, safe, hidden, renewing presence and glory of God.  I would really have thoughts about how I couldn't wait to get to heaven where I could just worship at the feet of Jesus...forever, no interruptions.  I was like Moses coming down the mountain the first time instead of Moses coming down the mountain the second time.  Let me explain...

First Time
"And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written... So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses' anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. "  Ex 32:15,19

Second Time
"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God...Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai."  Ex 34:29,32

The first time Moses came down from the mountain he only brought the instruction{testimony} that God had given him.  He didn't bring the glory that he had experienced for forty days.  He left the glory{experience} on the mountaintop.  So when he interfaced with the real world and the real problems he lost it; smashed the testimony.  I have had this so many times.  Especially now that I have two little kids.  I would be deep in a worship time driving in the car, kids sleeping.  Totally in the presence of God, warm tears gliding down my face at the beauty of Jesus.  Then from the back of the car, "MOM!  I need to go to the bathroom." about ruining the moment!  Tablets smashed, glory  So what was the difference on that second trip up the mountain?  Moses asks for a personal experience of the glory God to take with him along with the testimony.  In fact he tells God that he and the people will not move unless God's glory and presence goes with them.  Both the testimony and experience of God.
"Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.  And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.  For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”  Ex 33:13-16
"Then Moses said, "I pray You, show me Your glory!" And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you...Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin..."  Ex 33:18-19, 34:6-7 

We know if we read further that God was faithful to his promise.  He moved as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night wherever the people went.  The glory and testimony of the Lord rested in the tabernacle and later in the temple among the people.  The great testimony and glory of the Lord was made known consistently through the old testament not only to His people but also the nations.  The testimony and the glory of God worked together to create a nation of witnesses.  So now it wasn't the nation asking "Lord show me your glory."  It was God saying to the nation "You show me my glory."
"Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory..."You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me..."It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, And there was no strange god among you; So you are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And I am God."  Is 43:7,10,12
"Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me...He said to Me, "You are My Servant, Israel, In Whom I will  show My glory."   Is 49:1,3

Unfortunately by the end of the Old Testament the nation has gone back to the first trip down the mountain.  They had the testimony of God but they no longer have the the glory or experience of God.  We read in Ezekiel that the glory of God had left the temple.  They are really left with just a dry, crumbling tablet of testimony.  That is really what I am wanting to get at in this post.  Testimony without the glory and experience of God is dry and crumbling.  On the other hand experience and sitting in the glory of God without testimony is well...selfish.  Neither one on it's own is a effective witness.  God gave his testimony and showed his glory as a catalyst for his people to act; to be his witnesses.  Let's fast forward to the New Testament and another mountain of glory.
"About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus...Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said...A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."...The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him."  Luke 9:28-31,33,35,37

Now why did Jesus need to take these guys up the mountain to "experience" his glory?  Because he needed to not only tell them who he was, he needed to show them who he was.  Why?  So that they would listen to him and be his witnesses.  Testimony{word}+Glory{experience}= Effective Witness. What is cool is that Moses was there representing that written word{law}, Elijah the spoken word of the prophet and Jesus the fulfilment of both.  All three in the experience and glory of God to witness the truth.  Awesome.  Notice Jesus came back down the mountian too.  Jesus was the glory of the Lord that went with them down the mountian.  The disciples just hadn't quite figured that out yet.  The glory was walking with them.
So the real lesson for me in all of this was learning that you have to come down the mountain.  But when you do come down the mountain bring the glory of the Lord with you so that you might be His witness.  I would love to stay at the top of the mountain most days.  Just like the disciples I think "This feels good, let me just set up a tent here and stay in the glory of the Lord forever, uninterrupted."  But the thing is is that there is a lost and dying world at the bottom of the mountain waiting for us to come and show the testimony and the glory of God.  Am I saying that prayer and worship meetings are wrong?  Absolutely not!  We need to go to the top of the mountain so that what we do at the bottom of the mountain is more effective and moves in the power of God.  We need to keep our testimony drenched in the Spirit of God so it doesn't get dry and cracked.  So let the glory of the Lord and those experiences in the quiet place be a bolster for the lost and dying.  Not to keep it for ourselves but to have God give us a heart that all would experience Jesus as we have.  Moreover that all we do in every part of our day would be out of a heart of worship and to the glory of God.  Let your face shine in all things not just for your own experience but to be a witness to the testimony and glory of God in Christ Jesus.
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. "  2 Cor. 3:18
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God....even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved." 1 Cor 10:31,33


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