The Father is the Destination

In this way the Lord used to speak to Moses face-to-face, like two people talking to each other. Then Moses would come back to the camp. But his young assistant Joshua, Nun’s son, wouldn’t leave the tent. – Exodus 33:11

I grew up in a Christian home. I was surrounded by music, stories, and events that focused on God. I asked God to forgive me and be my savior and Lord when I was 5. So, my first encounter with God was very plain, it was child-like, it was simple. It carried no deep theological understanding or radical spiritual transformation—it was natural and easy.

Even at that young age I wanted to get into His presence. I remember praying for God’s forgiveness and for Him to take charge of my life (be my savior and Lord) every night. I didn’t realize that I just wanted to get on His lap and stay there. I didn’t know how to articulate that, and my parents didn’t know how to explain it to me. They just knew that I only had to be saved once, but, without understanding it then, I knew I needed to be saved—I needed to snuggle on Daddy’s lap—every day, all the time. I needed His presence then, and I need His presence every day now.

When you encounter God, you enter His very presence. The Bible teaches that you must seek His face first (relationship and encounter), not His hand (the things He does in our lives and the world). When you seek His face though, you see the working of His hand, and your faith grows! It is this place of encounter with God that you learn to see, hear, and feel His presence.

Seek His Face

Just as there is a place for encounter, and a response to God’s calling into encounter, God’s tangible presence is also there in your encounters with Him. He is calling you to be with Him, to hang out with Him, and to know who He is and what He is like.

Exodus 33:12-23 – Moses Pleads with God

The Israelites had just been caught worshiping the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain talking with God. Moses was frustrated and concerned that God would forsake them for breaking the promise already, so he pleads with God to give them a second chance. God agrees out of His infinite mercy and grants Moses a request.

So, Moses asks for something audaciously—at least for a human asking the Almighty God. He asks to see God’s face, to behold His glorious presence. God reveals Himself to Moses because he asked first for God—God above and before any other consideration. He spent so much time in God’s presence that the Israelites asked him to cover his face because it glowed as it reflected God’s glory. He sought God’s presence regularly and experienced the power of God’s hand at work in his life and in the fledgling nation of Israel.

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YOU EXPERIENCE THE POWER OF GOD’S HAND WHEN YOU SEEK HIS FACE—YOU ENCOUNTER HIS VERY PRESENCE.

God Works in Community During Encounter

God’s presence is many faceted—He is a triune God, three-in-one. And that is what makes experiencing His presence so unique. There are many ways to experience His presence. He is the Almighty Father, Comforter, Counselor, Friend, and Brother (to name a few)—experiencing any one of those aspects, let alone all of them, can be an overwhelming experience. Regardless of these many facets, God always works in community with Himself and with you for your good.

Matthew 3:11-17 – Baptism of Jesus

John knew that God’s presence was coming in a new way on earth. He baptized as a symbol, a precursor, for what God wanted to do through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He preached the imminent appearance of God’s Kingdom on earth that would be carried and made real through Jesus’ collaborative ministry (He did what he saw the father doing by the power of the Holy Spirit).

In the baptism of Jesus, you can see a demonstration of God’s manifest presence. Jesus, God in the flesh, was anointed by the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove while the Father spoke a blessing of love and joy over Jesus. All three persons of the godhead were present and active to launch the manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth.

1 Peter 1:2-5 & 2 Corinthians 13:13 –  A New Birth, a Living Hope

God the Father, through the work of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus, brings you into relationship with Him. He collaborates with you to make you into something new. An encounter with Him is life changing and results in a bond of fellowship between you all.

When you encounter God, it is an opportunity for you to be remade. His loving presence can be experienced through fear and trembling, extravagant joy and laughter, quiet introspection, weeping, and many other means. It will not leave you unimpacted, but for it to truly bring change you must choose to participate. Allow yourself to experience what He reveals and be remade into a new creation with an intimate fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

JESUS IS THE WAY. THE FATHER IS THE DESTINATION. (JOHN 14:6)

Choose Your Destination

You choose. You participate. You are the seeker. Just like Moses, seek God’s face—ask audaciously for His presence. Be like I was as a child, and climb in Daddy’s lap every day, no matter what it takes. Seek His presence above any other consideration. Just be—be in His presence!

Choosing to Meet God

In this way the Lord used to speak to Moses face-to-face, like two people talking to each other. Then Moses would come back to the camp. But his young assistant Joshua, Nun’s son, wouldn’t leave the tent. – Exodus 33:11

Every day we make dozens of choices. We choose what to eat, what to wear, how to get from here to there, and much more. Often those choices seem trivial and involve very little thought. Most are not even intentional but are impulsive and reactionary. But some of the choices we make affect our entire life—they shape and change our future. Of course, some of the biggest choices—the choices that impact our future the most—involve relationships.

I was never great at choosing friends. Mostly that’s because I grew up as a military brat. Every few years it was a new town and a new school. Friendships were temporary and never seemed to stand any test of time or travel. When I made friends, it just seemed to happen with very little of choosing involved.

But God is different. He wants a relationship with you and me! Building this relationship takes time and effort. Encountering God isn’t a chance occurrence or random event. Just as He seeks you out, you must seek Him as well.

God Chooses to Meet with You

God often arranges places for you to meet with Him. He chooses a place with impact for your life. He draws you off the normal paths of life to encounter Him in a powerful way. He calls you to stand on holy ground—He calls you to meet Him face to face.

Moses’ normal routine in Exodus chapter 3 was to graze his flock of sheep at the edge of the desert on God’s holy mountain (Mount Horeb). God sent a messenger of fire to catch Moses’ attention. He called to Moses and spoke from the midst of the flame, and Moses answered. When Moses responded and entered God’s presence, the place was declared holy. This was just the beginning of encounter.

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Saul’s normal routine in Acts chapter 9 was hunting down believers in Jesus. He had special authority and orders from the priests in the temple and zealously pursued them. He was on his way to Damascus one day and God sent a light from heaven that surrounded him. Jesus spoke from the midst of the light, and Saul answered. Saul fell to the ground in fear and trembling at the majesty of God—he was in God’s presence, he was on holy ground. This too was just the beginning of encounter.

GOD WILL ALWAYS CHOSE TO ENCOUNTER YOU NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN LIFE. YOU MATTER TO HIM!

You Choose to Meet with God

You also have a choice when encountering God. Will you choose to step into the encounter? How will you respond to the encounter? These questions will help you understand that your relationship with God is participatory. It doesn’t just happen to you. While you are meeting God, He is meeting you.

After Moses encountered God at the burning bush, his life was changed forever. God raised him up to be a leader of an entire nation. It also helped Moses realize that he needed to continually meet with God—to re-encounter God regularly.

In Exodus chapter 33, Moses made a practice of setting aside a specific place to meet with God regularly. He pitched a tent. Everyone saw God’s presence at the tent when Moses met with God. It was such a holy, powerful place of encounter, that Moses’ aide Joshua didn’t want to leave—he stayed in God’s presence as long as possible.

In Acts chapter 9 you can see that even Saul was transformed by his encounter with the risen Jesus! After a three day fast, his sight was restored—scales literally fell from His eyes. He changed his whole purpose in life. He stopped persecuting those who were following Jesus, and he started to speak in support of Jesus. He boldly declared what he once thought blasphemous, that Jesus was the Son of God.

Saul spoke with such conviction that he baffled the Jewish leaders in Damascus. He grew stronger and stronger as he shared his encounter with Jesus so that others could learn to encounter Him themselves. He became so radical, so on fire from his encounter, that the Jews even hatched a plot to murder him. Saul eventually changed his name to Paul, and he wound up writing the majority of the New Testament.

What will you choose? Will you choose to make a place to regularly encounter God? Will you choose to change and seek regular encounters with God?

AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD DESERVES A RESPONSE. WHAT WILL YOURS BE?

My Soul Longs for You

Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and see God’s face?
– Psalm 42:1

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Hunger and thirst for the Living God have been occupying my thoughts the last several weeks. It is a hunger that is driving and relentless. It is a dissatisfaction with anything less than a filling of the overflowing goodness of a great Father.

Are You Hungry?

There are many things we can hunger after in this world—power, prestige, position, possessions. However, this is a question we must regularly ask ourselves to dig deeper into an encounter with God! It is in deeper encounters with God that we begin to discover and understand who we are as sons and daughters of the Father. When we begin to know who we are in Him, we are then able to begin moving in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. This all springs from a place of hunger in our lives.

Hunger for God Changes You!

I met my wife over 20 years ago while we were both attending Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. It was an incredible experience. Catherine and I met and married in nine months. We were engaged after dating for two months. Neither of which I would ever recommend to anyone else. It’s just that God was doing something amazing, and He was with us.

I wanted to be with her all the time. I wanted to sit in Denny’s drinking milkshakes and talking all night long. I couldn’t stand being apart from her.

The summer during our engagement I got a job in Seattle, Washington as a summer youth pastor. It was a short term, missionary-like position. It was tough being apart from Catherine. I called her on the phone every day, and we’d talk as long as possible.

I wound up finishing the job early and couldn’t wait to race back to her. I drove 22 hours straight from Seattle to Phoenix just to be with her again. Was that smart? No! But it was driven by an intense desire to see her, to hear her, to hold her. My “hunger” for her presence changed me.

Passion drives choices in our lives. It fuels our decisions and can direct the course of our lives. There is a connection between hunger for God and a changed life. Just like my desire for my wife changed the course of my life, a desire for an intimate relationship with God will change you.

A passionate pursuit of God leads you closer to Him and farther from the world. If you aren’t getting farther from the world, you aren’t getting closer to God. You can tell where your “hunger” is because that is where you place your time, energy, and money. Are you hungry for what the world has to tell you, or are you hungry to hear from God? Jesus is a passionate lover of our souls, and he wants to spend time with us!

Set me as a seal over your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is as strong as death,
passionate love unrelenting as the grave.
Its darts are darts of fire—
divine flame!
Rushing waters can’t quench love;
rivers can’t wash it away.
– Song of Solomon 8:6-7

For more of my thoughts on this topic, see the message I shared at Passion Church in the video below.

Are You Hungry? | J. ANDERSON from Passion Church on Vimeo.

Home for Christmas

There are many who struggle through the holidays. It can be a very hard time as we deal with the twists and turns life throws our way. Whether it is a missing or lost loved one, financial hardship, or some other tragedy, the struggle is very real for some. But there is hope.

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

It has been said that once you leave, you can never “go home” again. Sure, that means that things are never quite as good as you remember them and that we can never relive the past. But there is more to home than nostalgia or the “good ole days.”

There is something in each of us that wants to celebrate. We want to give gifts, gather together, and share good food. We yearn for time away from our cares and worries spent together with those we love.

You see, home is more than a feeling or a memory. It is the people we share life with. Home is reaching beyond our current circumstances to encourage and bless each other.

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Some make festive and light during this season with thoughts of Santa, jolly elves, shiny-nosed reindeer, Christmas trees, presents, and lights. We make movies and sing songs about the fanciful and fantastical magic of the season when everything is covered in a blanket of pure white snow.

Others celebrate the season with Jesus. It is a time to remember his birth. He came as the ultimate gift for all mankind. We write plays, carols, and have special church services with candlelight and festive singing.


One story weighs heavily on my mind and heart this Christmas, and it is about family.

It is the story, the journey, of a missing son. He is lost and trapped in the lies of the world. The lie that success comes from money and selfish pursuits. Do anything to make yourself happy. Eat, drink, make merry with things that please the senses.

He wanders the world with all its ills and woes. He struggles under the failures and burdens of a hard life reaped from poor choices. His pursuit of pleasure has left him destitute, homeless, friendless, hungry, and desperate.

But then he remembers his father’s house. In that house, he was always loved, sheltered, clothed, and fed. Even with his poor choices, he hungers for a taste of what he once had, and hopes that he may be welcomed back, even as a lowly servant, just to experience that warmth once more.

Here is where the story gets real interesting. Here is where we see that you can be home for Christmas.

The young man’s father is constantly and eagerly waiting for his return. When he sees his son from afar, he runs to him. With a big hug, he welcomes his son home. He wraps him in a warm coat and makes a gift of his own ring as a symbol that he belongs. On the way to the house, he orders a feast, a return celebration like they have never seen before.

The son had come home! 

The father was eagerly waiting for him. And when he returned, the father lavishly poured out his love. That is the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15—a true Christmas story.

You can be home for Christmas…

Love, Hope, and a Coming Victory

It was a training and proving ground. There was discouragement, setbacks, and challenges at every turn. But those are stories for another time, and they aren’t mine alone.

This is one such story of challenges and trials. It is also a story of love, hope, and a coming victory.

Over the years, we have faced health challenges that have seemed insurmountable. You see, from my precious bride’s youth, struggles with health issues began. It was actually one of the things God used to stir my heart toward her.

We had been in classes together at university. She thought I was obnoxious; I thought she was out of my league. Somehow, we began spending time together and getting to know each other. Then, one evening after going to a movie with some friends, God ignited something fierce inside of me.

front porch

Just Engaged!

We were standing in the kitchen of her home, and she experienced an intense abdominal pain that doubled her over and brought her to her knees. She was so embarrassed, but it was one of God’s “suddenly” moments. I knew that I would do most anything to spend my life caring for her. I fell into something amazing—God’s compassion for her fired an intense compassion inside me as well. Over time and through other experiences, God brought us together as help-mates. It was exciting to find this treasure and know that adventures stretched before us!

Over the ensuing years, health challenges mounted for my bride. Doctor’s visits increased as we sought answers to symptoms, illnesses, and pain. General practitioners, every kind of specialist imaginable, nutritional health and naturopathy, and test after test; we’ve journeyed through it all with no real answers or permanent solutions.

During the course of this journey, doctors have diagnosed her with severe IBS, bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, auto-immune thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, uterine fibroids, bladder and uterine prolapse, colonic inertia (low-motive colon), redundant (or very twisty) colon, scoliosis, arthritis, spinal stenosis, 24/7 migraines, yeast in the blood with chronic infections, and hypotension. And there are still more results pending. It can all seem overwhelming, but the end result, the simple experience for my bride is pain.

Intense pain. Never-ending pain. Regularly debilitating pain.

She’s had procedures to “fix” some issues. She’s tried every medication imaginable. We’ve changed diet drastically and even “purged” the evil toxins of gluten and sugar for years! All of this has brought little to no relief at all.

Seven years ago, God began speaking in a very intimate and direct way to her. He spoke of a culmination and climax in all of these issues. He emphasized that no matter the apparent severity or any coming complications, He is her healer.

She began to pursue God more passionately for answers that doctors couldn’t find and that their practices couldn’t solve. I would come home from work only to find she had been shut in her closet for hours in praise and worship before the throne of God. She radiated with His presence. It was palpable, and it transformed how we thought and behaved.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Through this transformation, she was healed of bipolar disorder. It is completely gone. With the counsel and assistance of her psychiatrist, she stopped all treatment for the disorder. She has never gone back. I have never seen my bride so positive and confident since she has been set free from this mental oppression and saturated with His presence.

This past year, though, has been the most difficult by far. The pain has intensified—really intensified. She is almost completely bed-ridden. She has a hard time keeping weight on due to nausea and poor digestion. We use a wheelchair when we must go out because she experiences severe dizziness and balance issues. She’s begun slurring her words and forgetting things regularly.

Yes, it seems bleak, but despite all this, we have not lost hope. Our hope is in Him. He is where our help comes from.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Although my beloved has been diagnosed with a host of issues, they neither define nor explain who she is. They only show what she is journeying through. My bride’s story is unfinished, and yet to be gloriously completed by God.

Our hope is in the Maker of heaven and earth; Jehovah Rapha—the Great Physician and her healer. He is our miracle maker.