Last week we talked about the first distinctive that characterizes a disciple: EXPERIENCING GOD. Being a disciple BEGINS with a relationship with Jesus, and can only continue and grow as the relationship CONTINUES AND GROWS. For this reason, the Vineyard group of churches have made EXPERIENCING GOD one of our core values. We are committed to a Biblical understanding of the truth, but also to ongoing encounters with true and living God.
Here is an excellent 2 minute video I encourage you to watch about the Vineyard and Experiencing God: EXPERIENCING GOD
I grew up in a math / science kind of environment. My dad was an engineer; my brother is an engineer; my father-in-law is an engineer. You get the idea. I was used to reading and studying information and making decisions about what I believed. This impacted the early years of my life as a believer. I studied the Bible and sought to understand the truth that was written there.
I think that’s partially why I was so blown away when I ran into the Vineyard. I’ll never forget the first time I visited a Vineyard worship service. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard was sitting at a piano accompanying the worship team. The songs were mostly simple love songs about relationship with Jesus.
As I looked around, everyone (but me) seemed to be in another world. They had their eyes closed and their hands raised out as if they were reaching out to someone. I realized “these people believe Jesus is really here”. Looking around and listening, I also began to sense His presence.
After a while John began to teach. I’m not sure about the text, but I do remember he was talking about the importance of not only reading the Bible, understanding it, and believing it, but also recognizing that the scriptures pointed to a reality that we are supposed to experience.
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40
John invited us to imagine going to a restaurant and receiving a menu with pictures and descriptions of all the wonderful things they serve at the restaurant. But then, instead of ordering something off the menu, we decide to eat the menu itself. He concluded his message by saying,
“The Bible is the Menu, it’s not the Meal. Jesus is the Meal! Jesus himself, relationship with him, that’s the Meal. All the things Jesus wants to do in our lives and among us – that’s the Meal. So let’s get at it.”
And with that John initiated another round of worship, followed by an amazing time of ministry. People were invited to come forward to get saved. Then prophetic words were given inviting people to come and receive healing. All sorts of Kingdom ministry that I had never in my life dreamed of broke out all around me.
As we follow Jesus, let’s pursue growing both in the knowledge of the truth AND in the experience of his presence and activity among us.
WHAT PRACTICES HAVE YOU FOUND THAT HELP YOU TO ENCOUNTER THE TRUE AND LIVING GOD?
IN WORSHIP? IN PRAYER? IN BIBLE READING?