Thursday, May 20, 2010
For the past several weeks, I have been leading a group of about 40 interested Christians in a study on Experiencing the Holy Spirit. Besides the Bible, our primary text has been the book "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it.
Last night, we were talking about "Plugging into the Spirit's Power." At the beginning of class I showed a clip from Chan's DVD study resource for Forgotten God. In it, he told a story of a Pastor who felt like he heard the voice of God tell him to go to the beach. When he got there, he found a woman standing on a pier and felt that God was leading him to approach her. As the story progresses, she was planning on committing suicide, and he was able to stop her and lead her to a relationship with Jesus. Francis tells it better than I do but you get the point.
I was raised in a church where the Holy Spirit was rarely motioned except during the occasional baptism. So still to this day, when I hear stories of the Spirit's leading, I get skeptical. Now, undeniably there have been times in my own life that I have felt the Spirit's gentle (and not so gentle) nudging, but when I hear someone else's story I tend to question it. Could it be I am not as plugged into the spirit as I think I am?
What do we do with stories like that? How do we process it? How do we become more plugged in to the Spirit? How do we discern the Spirit's leading?
I had a mother and her 20ish daughter approach me last night and ask me, "How do I know if it is the Holy Spirit talking to me or just my own thoughts?" What a great question! I wish I knew the answer! But I gave them this to think about: Sometimes we may not know, but if the words that come into our head are within the parameters of God's word and God's will, and we do them, that will always be a good thing!
For example: Let's say you are sitting in a restaurant and your waitress seems troubled. You feel a nudging, almost a voice, telling you too tell her, "hey, I just feel like I needed to let you know that no matter what you are struggling with right now, God loves you." If it was the Spirit telling you to do that, then you obeyed the Spirit. If it was your own conscience, you have still done the right thing. It's never wrong to tell someone God loves them, right?
Sometimes I'm not sure we will ever know it it was the Holy Spirit that led us a certain direction, but if the journey led us closer to God, the it was the right thing to do.
What's my point? Be open to the Spirit's leading. Be obedient to what God would have us to do. And when you feel like God is leading you in a certain direction, if it matches the principles of his word, GO! Obedience will never lead you to the wrong place.
(If you want to see a clip of the DVD I mentioned, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=espqNx6D3Jo)
Monday, May 10, 2010
I took many things away from a wonderful week in Malibu. One thing I took with me was the need to start blogging again, so here goes:
I believe I have attended the lectures 8 or 9 times now, and I can truly say that this was the best one yet. From the keynotes, to the worship, most of the classes I attended, and the many friends I got to see, I left fed and nurtured. It was a much needed week and I came back revived and renewed. It was great to have 28 from Lakeview attend this year.
Somethings I took away from the week that I plan to focus on over the coming weeks and months:
1) The absolute need for exellence in everything we do inside of our buildings. So often we just kinda wing it. Our assemblies serve as an entry point for many unchurched. What do they see? What do the feel? Tim Spivey likened a visit to many of our churches like a trip to Grandmas house. It's comfortable to Grandma; she likes it. But to a visitor, it may smell funny, the carpet doesn't match the curtains, and there are stacks of old newspapers everywhere. Our churches are comfortable to us, they are home. But what if you got an unchurched friend to come in and just give you their impressions? What would you find out?
2)The need for quality UPDATED websites. This may sound silly, but a recent Barna survey says that 40% of newcomers who walk in our door look for us on the web first. If our site in poor quality and out of date, that sends and negitive message about our church.
3)The importance of the Holy Spirit's leading. I could go all day on this. I don't talk about the Holy Spirit in my sermons as much as I should and I guess that is out of fear. But the fear will be pushed to the side and the gloves ate coming off. We cannot be the restored church without restoring the role of the Holy Spirit!
I suppose other things stood out to me as well and I will blog on them as soon as my tired mind gets some rest and I can remember more.
One of the highlights of the week was the classes I got to co-teach. Jim, Dennis and I had a small group, but I think the class was well recieved.
It was a joy to co-teach with my beautiful bride! I am blessed to have such a godly wife and she did a great job!