Worship and valuing the manifest presence of God is something that is part of our heritage, for many of us. I am so grateful to spiritual fathers like Bryn and Keri Jones who helped to lead a movement in the UK, one of whose main legacies was to transform the experience of worship for so many - they paid the pioneers' price so that we could enjoy a church culture that experienced freedom, passion, genuine intimacy with the Holy Spirit, exuberant joy, the gifts of the Spirit and an expectancy that God would manifest his presence and power when we gathered to worship. I honour them for that. (One of my favourite books by Bryn was Worship: A Heart for God, almost certainly now out of print).
Bill Johnson's writings on worship, intimacy with God and the Presence therefore so resonate with this key aspect of the journey many of us have been on for years. In this recent book he puts it in the context of God's ultimate agenda to live among people - in the garden of his Presence. Then he reflects on different aspects of what it means for us to be carriers of the Presence both individually and corporately. Where I think he takes us further on the journey is in encouraging an expectancy for the supernatural lifestyle as living in God's Presence becomes normal for us; and for our experience of the Presence to actually lead to a transformation of cities as the Presence we attract actually changes the atmospheres and environments in which we live.
He gives us so much to think about in this as in others of his books. People often say that a book was so good they couldn't put it down. I usually say of most of Bill Johnson's books that they are so good you have to put them down - he writes in such a way that you want to stop and think about what he has said. And often just to worship! The only other writer who wants to make me stop and worship is A.W.Tozer.
Bill Johnson argues that for many years, churches have camped around the sermon in our gatherings. We need to value preaching and teaching but learn again to camp around the Presence, and to discover more about its transformative power. I agree.