God Comes Where He Is Wanted
August has begun. This month we take time to push into our habit of resting, slowing down, and listening to God. At our recent vision celebration, we remembered all God has done this year and shared the sense that September will be the start of a shift in gear for us as a church family. If you’re part of, praying for, or interested in what God is doing at Barking Riverside then take time to watch that here.
This last week a number of us went to the New Wine United Summer Conference – joining thousands of Christians at the East of England Showground to worship, learn and encounter God.
Going into that week, like many of us, I felt stretched and worn out. It has been a long hard slog, even with some amazing things happening.
I’ve come back changed.
Changed first by meeting with Jesus. On the last two mornings, during space made after the talks simply to pray and invite the Holy Spirit to come….I encountered God in a hugely powerful way. He didn’t answer all of my questions or remove all my challenges, but He met with me. And I am changed.
If you do nothing else, take time just to ask Him to meet with you.
In the midst of this particular encounter, I felt God speaking one clear word: that He wants to meet with people in their homes, for homes to be filled with the Spirit in the kind of encounters and power that we have come to expect only at large conferences or gatherings.
This resonates so strongly with our heart as a church community and with the inspiring message shared by Jon Tyson in one of the final talks.
Tyson is a scholar, church planter, and respected leader. He spoke each morning but described the final talk as: “if you’re only going to listen to one, this is the one I want you to hear”.
He shared his passion for Revival. How since he was a young man he’s been captivated by the accounts of times when God has shown up in entire communities in extraordinary ways. Like in the Hebrides in the 1950s when the Spirit of God filled the islands to such an extent that crowds of young people at the dance floor were falling to their knees with a sudden conviction of their need for God. Accounts of the Welsh revival in the 1900s when 100,000 people came to faith in one year or revivals taking place even now in South America, Asia, and Africa.
Like many before him, Tyson was asking the question: what leads to revival?
He studied revival history, theology, and scripture; he undertook the “Tyson Family Revival Tour” visiting 17 sites of revivals around the world. He spoke to those who have experienced revival first hand.
And what was his conclusion?
It’s not about theology or method: God has moved through Anglicans, Anabaptists, Pentecostals and many others.
What about Prayer, Repentance, Unity, Holiness? All are important factors but not the key.
Tyson summarized his entire learning from these years of study and seeking in one sentence:
God comes where He is wanted.
Hunger. Do we want God?
This hunger expresses itself in four different cries….
- A cry that I want God in my HEART. My life becomes an altar for His presence. I literally wept as Jon shared his own experience, so similar to mine, of how fiery passion in his youth became diluted by the pressures, concerns and distractions of later life and professional ministry. Have we become satisfied with a tiny measure of God’s presence? Can we sustain a desperate cry in our hearts for more of God?
- A cry that I want God in my HOME. It has been said that the church is always one generation away from death and one generation away from revival. The Bible commands to raise our children in the faith. We have not had altars in our homes strong enough to resist the waves of society that is at odds with the reality and goodness of Jesus. Despite massive-scale production of Christian resources, literature, music…still 70% of Christian children in America fall away from faith. The family schedule typically runs at a frenetic pace revolving around education and sport. Tyson asked the challenging question: If everything we’ve sown into our children bore fruit…what would the fruit be? We need to build altars of prayer, worship, and hunger for God’s presence in our homes.
- A cry that we want God in our CHURCHES. So much has invaded our churches in recent years from secularism to Covid….now we need the Holy Spirit to invade. We need a hunger for His presence, which will be seen in the culture of prayer within our churches. If we want a different harvest we need to pray different prayers. If God answered every prayer we prayed, what would the result be?
- A cry that we want God in our REGION. We need a united passionate hunger as churches together in our regions for God to come. For our eyes to lift from church buildings, structures, and programs to hunger for Jesus in the midst of every sphere and space. To step over any barriers or divides and cry out together “God we want you here, in this place, at this time…come Lord Jesus”
As Tyson talked my heart was stirred. This is the vision God has given us from the start for Barking Riverside. The vision to see Jesus at the heart of every person and every place. The promise from John 7:37-39 that it is through those who thirst for him enough to come and drink, that streams of living water will flow like a river through Barking and beyond. This has been behind our focus, not on services or buildings or programs, but on being people with a shared passion to create space for Jesus through habits, hubs and hands.
God comes where He is wanted.
This month is crucial for us. It is a time to strip back the busyness (we will be gathering only on Sundays 4pm-5.30pm at the Rivergate Centre), to take time to rest and to make space for God to speak. As we go into it I encourage every one of us to simply start praying:
“God I want you! In my heart, in my home, in my church, in my region…you are welcome here. Get rid of anything in me that would distract or divert me from you, stir up an even greater hunger in me for you, and come and have your way.”