The Resurgence of the Spirit-Filled Church
Church is like the Clark Kent to the Superman. We are a humbly bunch who have access to the power and presence of the Living God. Wow. Seriously, that's a game-changer.
But like Clark Kent, no one takes us too seriously right now, not really. I mean, just look at us. I don't mean that as a slam on us, guys. Jesus loves and forgives anyone who calls on him, so of course we would look like quite the Motley crew with such an open door policy.
Remember Clark Kent at the beginning (think Smallville) when Clark didn't have any real confidence in himself yet? He walked around unassuming, not sure where his place was. I'm pretty sure it was 4 seasons in before he learned to fly!
When I was a kid I used to swear to myself when I became an adult I would not go to church. What a waste of a perfectly good Sunday! Who wants to go sit through lectures on a not-a-school day? Laaame.
But being a church kid had it’s perks too. One of them being summer camp. You had to sit through services there too, but that was just the small price to pay for the fun vacation away from home! At these services we learned songs like,
“I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me... Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see ….Opens prison doors, sets the captives free….Spring up, oh well…"
“Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Rise up and walk! …”
What fanatical little tunes! But to me, they were just that….tunes. My favorite Sunday school teacher’s name was Sheila. She was animated, kind, and FUN. She had the personality of a nickelodeon game show host and made the gospel sound easy and inviting.
Years later, when I turned 18, Sheila showed just how fanatical she was! She up and moved to a poverty stricken area in Mexico. She just said she was a missionary now and that was that. What possessed her, once her own children were grown, to leave behind everything, and start all over again? Except this time, outside of her own culture, and comforts of home. What persuaded her to leave to a country where she did not even know the language? I'll tell you this: she stayed long enough until she learned it. She lived humbly in a cinder block concrete square that was always full of muchachos and muchachas. At the time it seemed so bizarre. Who does that?
When I was 11 my family switched church homes. We became members of a Spirit-Filled Church. Not that the Holy Spirit wasn't at our last church, but at age 11, all of the sudden I became aware of something amazing. I know now it was the Holy Spirit. My feelings toward church began to change.
I couldn't quite describe it. I just knew when it was time for Praise and Worship something in my spirit came alive. I became aware of His Presence and I actually enjoyed with my senses, his nearness. I began to crave these meetings.
Soon twice a week was not enough, so I recreated my own meetings at home. I just imitated what they did at church. And guess what? He was at my home too. In my teen years when life becomes a bit more complicated, I called on him and he was there too. I knew him for many years as friend.
It ended there, for a while. About 10 years, actually. Whenever I needed a friend, I turned to him. I worshiped him. He filled a void in my heart and he made me feel whole. He made me feel happy and loved. Friendship can do that.
But in my early thirties my marriage fell apart. I didn't want my family split up, but I was completely helpless to do anything about it. I turned again to my friend. But I didn't need a friend. I needed someone with authority and power to go before me and fight some battles for me.
I grew to know the Holy Spirit as the very spirit of God who offers more than companionship. My goodness, He is GOD after all, not limited with boundaries like my human friends. I began to realize He was actually everything I needed.
He became my defender, my comforter. He empowered me to do things I never thought I was capable of. He convicted me of my own sin, proving himself as judge and counselor over my life. He kept transforming me until all the brokenness was gone. It was as if God actually…..healed me. Just like I had read about him doing in the scriptures. So I learned to know him too, as healer.
In Acts 3 Jesus had newly ascended into heaven. Once he physically left the earth the Holy Spirit flooded it. John 6:7 reveals Jesus saying, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
And send us an advocate he sure did. Shortly after the ascension, Peter and John passed by a lame beggar who asked them for money. Peter replied, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” vs 6
The man was healed. He got up and began praising God. The people went nuts and a great crowd gathered wide-eyed to hear an explanation of what just happened. I mean, what in the real world, right?
But Peter said: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you?….” (vs 12). His explanation dives all the way back to the Old Testament where it was prophesied that Jesus would be coming and well, he came. He conquered, and the rest is history.
Pause. This was my dilemma. This is the God I say I serve. This is the cornerstone of my faith. An urgency hit me. I need to get in or out. If I truly believe the scriptures, Old Testament and New, I need to start living like it. The world seriously needs us to start living like it.
I say I serve the same God who parted a wild ocean during a Jewish exodus. Who raised his own son from the dead, whose miracles were so epic they were recorded and preserved for thousands of years.
IF I believe that, how can I reasonably collapse under pressure? How can I totally cave at the first sign of adversity? How can I wallow in despair knowing my whole faith depends on one who is CAPABLE to move mountains?
In John 6 we find Jesus teaching. People turned and were leaving in droves because he sounded so crazy. As people emptied the spot by the lake where Jesus taught, he turned to his disciples and said,
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” I can imagine they stood there, blank-faced at the ridiculous question. Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:67-68)
I know what Jesus does to someone. You’ve already ruined our lives, Jesus, to how they were before. We don’t want those old lives back. After being near you, we only want….you.
Following Jesus will be your life. But man, what a life.
I probably sound like a fanatic. But we have an example of crazy fanatics to look to. When I read the Bible, I have to admit….I think I'm doing it wrong. Isn't it more crazy to watch my town be eaten alive by a heroin epidemic and say, “Sorry, city. I really wish there was something I could do to help, but this is a hard one.” When I know the answer.
The world seems to be drowning. It is truly crying out, "WE NEED A SAVIOR! SOMEONE SAVE US!" But, church: The Savior came. He conquered. He left his holy church, entrusted it….to us.
But he did. not. leave. us. alone.
Let's please stop living like he did. The horrible situations facing our world right now are tough problems to solve. Tough for me. Tough for you. But if we really believe in a God who created existence with the swoop of his breath, I have to wonder….what else can he do?
2017 crashed upon us as a shipwreck leaking fear, hate, division, and helplessness into the waters. For many, the results have been paralyzing and threaten to capsize our faith too. Where is Jesus? How can such evil around the world so freely reign?
But I never signed up for a helpless faith. When I read the Bible it sounds anything but powerless. We are empowered sons and daughters of God. We get to be human ambassadors right here in the trenches, fully equipped to follow his commission.
David slayed a giant. Joshua stopped the sun. Jesus raised from the dead and graves were opened and dead men walked again. So living powerless now feels like a big fat fraud. God did not leave us powerless. The word radicalism has horrific connotations today (for grave reason given current events), but honestly, I think the world is waiting for Jesus followers to become fanatics. If I don't embrace radicalism as a Christian believer, I'm in the wrong faith.
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…" John 14:12 NIV
I can't fix this broken world. But I know the Fixer.
Please join me in petitioning God to INTRUDE in our world this week. To INTERVENE for those stranded and helpless, or caught in war zones. Very often when we pray, he answers by giving us a portion of his love. Let us not be so overcome by the bad news in our world, that we forget the power of Jesus in which he has given us access. Let God so set his love ablaze inside of us that we may become so overcome with it that we must move. And do. And be his hands and feet.
*Talk back….What have you seen Jesus do? What are you trusting him for? What has he asked you to do? Encourage someone else by sharing it below.
Let's do this. #makehimfamous #hesaliveandwell