Lessons from our fathers

“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” — Exodus 33:11

This is such a beautiful verse, describing the intimacy of Moses’ relationship with God as he enjoyed His presence in the tent of meeting. But the sentence that follows is just as profound: “When Moses turned again to the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” Moses brought his spiritual son into the presence and Joshua learned to linger there.

I often think of this dynamic when I recall my formative days as a new believer and how my spiritual fathers taught me about the things of the Spirit. Men such as Harold Owen, who led a traditional Baptist church into the baptism of the Spirit and then taught them how to receive and flow in His gifts. After he retired, I used to listen to him for hours as he recounted stories of outpourings and revival.

Or my dear old friend Bernard Dodd, an ex-Baptist minister with whom I used to pray regularly. In our times together the presence of God came upon us so powerfully that on one occasion I actually thought I was going to die – and I was quite happy at the prospect!

Or Malcolm Kayes, who still leads the Coign Church Woking, whose superb skill in encouraging and leading a congregation in charismatic worship shaped my own leadership style. 

Since planting Grace Church, I have become intensely aware of this dynamic of father to son, one generation to another – especially as most in our church are so young, often with little or no real experience of the Spirit before joining us.

We are seeing some remarkable developments across our churches: numerical growth; purchasing buildings; learning how to build and manage multiple staff teams; development of social justice ministries; increasing unity with the wider body of Christ; evangelistic confidence (largely through Alpha); and, interestingly, healing. And yet I have a concern that some of the lessons our fathers learned in the things of the Spirit seem to be fading from memory. They fought hard battles to get us into the presence – I wonder if we are in danger of throwing away the spoils of their victories?

In this series we will look at four areas where I feel we need to take new ground in the Spirit. Or rather, four areas where perhaps we need to re-visit lessons from our fathers – and bring the next generation into the good of them... 

To read part 2 of this series, click here.

Photo: "Last of the sun" by symmetry_mind