I have just finished a great weekend with a great church in Lisbon, Portugal. It was great to be with Pastor Jorge Jacinto and the church of Brotherly Love. We spent the weekend teaching on worship and praise, their source, their purpose, and the result of worship and praise released rightly into the world.
I have seen huge shifts in my thinking in the past seventeen years in regards to worship and praise. I was a worship leader and a worship director and even extensively involved in worship leading and development through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. During that time, the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Might, was at work in the church restoring the hearing of God, the speaking of God, and experiencing of God in His manifest presence in the church. There was great shaking and there was great joy in the church. The sound of worship was a sound of shaking the wilderness and it caused many to wake up to the manifest presence of God. It also revealed those who were stronger in their own strength than in their willingness to allow the Spirit of Might to take control. It revealed the strength of the Spirit and manifested many strongholds of the flesh. Though it was a season filled with supernatural testimonies of God’s presence it also manifested carnal testimonies of the flesh. The church was often broken, wounded, and damaged in some way by the unstable, untaught ways of people living a flawed concept of human community. Perhaps a generation born in that pain is required to find the generational healing for our family name. Perhaps the failures of the flesh are the very thing that was needed for the proof of what is to come. Perhaps the injustice of things done wrong is an invitation to a greater justice system of love. Each generation must own what has been handed to them in life and each generation must discover the grace of God to bring life to what is, what was, and what is to come in their own boundary and measure of rule in life.
At the end of the 90’s, the sound the church began to shift towards an awareness of the Father’s love for His children. Things like reconciliation, forgiveness, love, and intimacy began to emerge in the realm of the Spirit as we turned the millennium. Those concepts hardly fit into a justice system of right and wrong and thus many have twisted them to become concepts to justify legalism or, at the other extreme, promiscuity in some way. Love doesn’t require another to change, but only allows the one who loves to be a testimony of love to another. It was easy to demonstrate the prophetic power of God amid the flow of the Spirit of Might, but the Holy Spirit was calling for more. He was calling for the Spirit of Knowing to fill the hearts and minds of His people. Perhaps one of the strongest revelations that has come into the church in the past seventeen years is that each of us was born to be loved by God. The sound of worship has taken on an atmosphere and ambiance of being loved by God. There is no more shame. It is ok to be vulnerable and less than perfect, discovering that we are even more perfect with our diversities than is our unified victories of some external glory. Our victories of the past have been about the manifest presence of God in our midst, but now it is more about God and the community of God together in all things. Huge weapons are formed against such a thing, but God is leading us further in the purpose of His will. It seems harder to be prophetic when the move of the Spirit is willing to confirm His love for us in the midst of our flaws and generational inheritances of weakness. If it was simply a matter of overcoming the weakness in an external manner, it would be easy. The Spirit of Might would move in and wake us up in the midst of our failures. I believe the Spirit of Might is still increasing, but in conjunction with the Spirit of Knowing, an intimacy with God and with one another. The counterfeit to the Spirit of Knowing is a natural knowledge that leads to offenses, judgments and defilements in some way towards one another. Knowledge alone is based upon natural facts and even our perceptions of those facts. Knowledge has become readily available and there is a constant twisting of truth. The world is more word sensitive than they are heart sensitive and they do not see truth with their eyes. Their ears are heavy, their hearts are dull, and they do not see. They hear too well naturally, thus they cannot hear with their hearts, and they cannot see clearly as to what is truth. They hear what they hear, not really what is said. Natural sight, natural conclusions, and natural understanding are weapons formed against communion, community, and corporate destiny. There is a need for spiritual discernment, perception, and understanding. Our greatest battle is what we can hear and it is blinding us to what we can possibly see. Thus it is, when we hold on to our likeness and image and refuse to be formed in the likeness and the image of another. When we hold on to our singleness, we judge others by their diversity and we judge God in our perceptions of the facts of who He is, what He is, or what He should do.
Isaiah 6:9-10 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”
A present truth of the Spirit is surely a testimony of grace and the fact that God loves all people just as they are. It is easy to try to fashion and form God into our likeness when we foolishly think that our likeness is what He is giving His favor to. Perhaps He is giving His Fatherly love and now He is calling for sons and daughters to overcome every wicked thing by being strong in His Spirit and strong in the substance of Him – a testimony of His word made flesh.
Ted J. Hanson