Pastor Alec Rowlands of Edmonds, Washington's Westgate Chapel, invites readers on "a quest to discover what it means to experience the awesome, yet very tangible presence of God" in his September 1 release, "The Presence." He notes, such spiritual encounters with the living God, in relationship with the Holy Spirit "produces changed hearts, resulting in changed lives that bring glory and praise to God."
He writes with authority from an unforgettable encounter he had with the supernatural presence, power and glory of the "untamed Lion of Judah" when he was eleven-years-old, an experience that changed his life and influenced everything he thought and did from that point forward.
However, he warns, such happenings are never a substitute for faith, nor are they to be "elevated above scripture" or sought after for the experience alone. Yet, he also believes "our highest purpose is to know, experience, enjoy and glorify God." Because that is the "spiritual birthright" of those "reborn in Christ."
Still, how can God be enjoyed when for many Christians He remains a "distant, disengaged disciplinarian" and their salvation is viewed as merely "a change in status," writes Rowland. It's as if they have their ticket to heaven since they walked the aisle of salvation and have no interest in their spiritual birthright which is to "know, experience and glorify God."
That describes an intimate, vibrant personal relationship through the power of the Holy Spirit which is what God wants with His children and what His children need according to Rowland. The seeming paradox is that pursuit of God's presence is both the "journey and the destination, he writes." Although "God rewards those who earnestly seek Him," according to Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:27, such encounters only occur "in ways and times that God knows will be best for us and will advance his purpose in our lives," writes Rowland.
Rowlands compares our search for God's presence to that of a "little kid playing hide-and-seek with a parent." No parent hides from a child where they can't be found, parents play the game out of "a desire to love and be with their child" which is a wonderful analogy of how God wants to be in relationship with us.
Because God is more than a "genie in a bottle" who grants wishes. He wants to be known and loved in return because "love" is a two-way street and "must be nurtured." Yet such spiritual encounters, fueled by the Holy Spirit aren't common in churches across America. That lack leads to a "growing hunger for God," notes Rowlands and a dissatisfaction with the "Christian life" in general that he believes has led to a decline in church attendance. A fact further illustrated by the rise in "nontraditional spirituality to fill the void."
In The Presence, Pastor Rowlands uses the Bible and personal anecdotes about himself and others as examples of encounters with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. He provides answers to questions like, what is God's Presence and purpose with a spiritual encounter? What should I look for, how should I prepare and what part does the Holy Spirit play?
Filled with spiritual insights and practical advice, The Presence encourages and invites readers into genuine spiritual renewal and revival for those who are hungry for more of God.
'The Presence, Experiencing More of God,' by Alec Rowlands, Forward by Jim Cymbala, Tyndale Momentum, 2014, 272 Pages, 978-1414387246, $15.99
Midwest Book Reviews—"Gail's Bookshelf:" August 2014
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