May 28 2020

Come Holy Spirit

“Come, Holy Spirit!” This phrase has popped up in some streams of Christianity and is often used within those streams to invite God’s presence into a service, room, situation, etc.  But to some it can be confusing because God is already omnipresent so why would we need to invite him into our midst? I have also heard people pray with the opposite focus using phrases like “God you are already here so we don’t need to invite you.” So which is it?  Do we need to invite Him or not?

In Rev. 3:20, Jesus says that he is standing outside the door, knocking, and waiting to come in.  He is waiting to be invited in.  He is everywhere and yet he is also waiting for an invitation. There is a difference between His omnipresence and His manifest presence. Omnipresence is God’s natural ability to be everywhere at once but there are different levels of his manifest presence. We see this reality in Moses’ interaction with God on the mountain, God’s presence in the holy of holies, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the upper room just to name a few.  Read any book about what happened at Azusa St. and you will also see examples of a more intense level of his presence.

We invite Him because we want to experience deeper levels of his love and more tangible levels of his presence. Sometimes the air starts to feel a little thicker as if you are standing in a cloud. And in these thicker levels of his presence we often experience the attributes of God in a much deeper way.

So I say, “Come, Holy Spirit!”

May 21 2020

Your focus determines your reality

There’s an old Jewish proverb that says “you choose your habits and your habits choose your future.”  It’s an interesting phrase because it makes the point that the things we choose to do on a daily basis can impact us for many years.  For Christians this can take on a variety of different meaning but I like to think that if we establish “God habits” like passionately pursuing His presence on a daily basis and studying the Bible with a desire to understand what He is speaking to us then our future will be much brighter.  Philippians 4:8 tells us to focus on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely.  What could be better than to focus some of our time and energy each day on the things that exude these qualities? Stephen Covey has made a fortune sharing a similar habit idea and has made many people successful as a result. His ideas were likely birthed by the Spirit of God (whether he realizes it or not) so that we could have a clear understanding of the importance of forming good habits.  Start today and watch how quickly your future changes to line up with God’s purpose for your life.

May 14 2020

Spiritual Spoon Feeding

In the midst of this season, a lot of people have moved to attending online church services, which I think is great, except for this underlying idea that so many of those transitions have been made with the notion that believers will go unfed if they cannot attend a weekend service. That’s a bit intense, I know, but stick with me here for a minute. Followers of Jesus cannot survive off a 1-hour service each week. We need to be trained to receive directly from the source—Jesus! In John 15, Jesus teaches us that we can do nothing without him. He does not say we can do nothing without the church, he says we can do nothing without him. That is an important distinction. He is our source. He is the one we go to for our spiritual feeding. Unfortunately, too many believers have fallen into a trap of believing that they go to a church service as the primary place to be fed. And if we are completely honest with ourselves, pastors carry part of the blame for allowing members of the body to continue in this mindset. Jesus is the vine that we need to stay connected to, and our spiritual nourishment should flow directly from him. The body of Christ certainly has a role, but it may not be the role that you think it is.

Ephesians chapter four teaches us that Jesus gave Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers (commonly called the 5-fold ministry) as gifts to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” The role of the 5-fold ministry is to equip the saints to become mature enough that they are able to feed directly from Jesus. Small children have to be spoon fed, but eventually they learn how to feed themselves, and eventually they learn how to find and prepare their own food. They don’t depend on, or demand, spoon feeding for their entire life. Sadly, this is not common in the body of Christ.

What we see all too often is that followers of Jesus are content to be spiritually spoon fed each week instead of digging into the bible, pursuing deeper intimacy with Jesus, and actually being equipped to fulfill their life’s purpose. Spoon feeding is easy. It requires no effort on the part of the receiver. This is why so many practices that don’t require any effort have become so popular. This is why people search for their identity in a test instead of in Jesus. This is why we have so many spiritually emaciated and powerless Christians. And this is why the world does not see the church as the answer. Some have even become so accustomed to being spoon fed that they will stop attending a church service when they feel like they are not being fed. But I would like to suggest that the spiritual feeding role within the church is primarily for young believers who need to be properly discipled. Once that is accomplished, they can function healthily within the body of Christ. This requires a major shift by the 5-fold ministry away from the current model of feel good sermons. We need to be training, equipping, and releasing believers into the call God has for their life.

The spoon feeding has to stop!!!

My advice for pastors is this: focus on equipping, so the people you pastor can fulfill the purpose and mission given to them by Jesus. This may require a major shift in the way your local church body functions and in the way you minister. But consider that if your model hasn’t been effective in actually advancing the Kingdom of God, it may be time to ask Jesus for a new model.

My advice for all believers is this: focus on being equipped, so you can go out and fulfill the purpose and mission given to you by Jesus. Consume the word of God. Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn to hear his voice. You were made to be in relationship with your creator.

If anything you just read hit a nerve in you, I suggest you pause and listen to what Jesus wants to speak to you right now. Because here’s the reality: unequipped believers will never be able to fulfill the purpose, role, and destiny that God created them to fulfill. The gospel is simple. Let’s not complicate it. Make disciples, train them to make more disciples, and represent the fullness of Jesus to the world.

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