Forgotten God

Forgotten God

 

 Today, I am in Columbus at Connect Church. (Pastor Paul Walls) I have been speaking and ministering at their “Holy Spirit Weekend.”  

There is an obvious decline in the pursuit of the baptism in the Holy Spirit throughout the Christian world. Francis Chan published a book called, “Forgotten God,” referencing this fact. Throughout the centuries the Holy Spirit is the one who gets left behind first. The early churches witnessed the decline of the baptism of the Holy Spirit until by the 4th century there is little said or movement known.  The gifts of the Spirit became little known on the larger scale and were practiced by the few. It was not until the reformation that there were numerous groups experiencing the Holy Spirit as in the days of Pentecost. Even then, they were considered “fringe” groups and not main stream.

What is it about the Holy Spirit that gets put on the “back burner?”  Even those who have received the Baptism and have operated in the gifts can drift quickly and walk away from the practice and demonstration of the Spirit’s power. I have known many who have gone into non spirit filled churches and cease to share the freedom they once had. In talking with some over the years, they admit to more comfort and ease. This is a result of giving up a portion of what they had.

It is easier to have a church that is fixed. Rituals, patterns, liturgy, all are good in a way, but when they formalize, create rigidness, they kill the opportunity of the Spirit to lead, adjust, or speak. Formalism is safe. Thus the human is more comfortable with safe than with something living and dynamic.

Following the Holy Spirit, being open to the Holy Spirit is an adventure. Yes, we have a certain order, but we have an open invitation to allow the Holy Spirit to arrange things. The devil is afraid of a group that would be open to the Holy Spirit. He works extra hard to disrupt, discourage, and destroy any group that wants to move by the Spirit of God.  That alone should indicate how important it is to be open to the Holy Spirit. 

Every believer gets the comfort and consolation of the Spirit, but He was intended to have more than that in us. He was intended to be the dynamo that works in us to empower us for the works of Jesus.

We are facing a time when we must hold fast what we have and continue to pursue more of Him. I am going to continue to preach these things and seek to live by them to the best of my ability. It is not a time to shrink from the Holy Spirit, but a time to embrace Him and allow Him to flow through us. Who knows what opportunities lie before us if we are faithful.

– Pastor Bill

God Moments

God Moments
 
You never know when there is going to be a “God Moment.” A God moment is when you get that prodding from the Holy Spirit that something is happening. A God moment can happen anywhere. It is that moment when you are talking to someone and the Holy Spirit prods you to say something. It can come from a question or a thought the other person has expressed. The conversation could be moving along some common topic and suddenly, there it is, right in front of you. The opportunity to gently answer a question that allows you to share your faith at some level.

Now what do you do? The tendency from our church training or witness training is to unload everything to them. Bob Mumford taught that when an animal is hungry, you do not give them the whole hay wagon load and force them to eat all of it. You feed the animal carefully and give them enough to satisfy their hunger. They will come back for more tomorrow. God moments are like that. You answer the question. You make the comment that is appropriate for the situation. You then stop and wait. If they continue to converse on the topic, then the door is open for giving more. If they do not continue, then stop completely. Do not force feed.

Other God moments are when Christians are together and sharing a meal, or time together in recreation, or just sitting around talking. Suddenly, the Lord can show up and change the atmosphere. Years ago, we were sitting around the table having dinner at our home in Waynesburg. We had laughed, had a great time, when suddenly the Lord became very present and we decided to finish our meal with communion. It was one of the most memorable communion times that we have had.

God Moments can be personal as well. You can be going about your daily work, your daily routines, when unexpectedly the Lord shows up. It can happen on a starry night as you look into the dark, starlit night or it can happen when you are holding your child. Some of the most mundane things can turn into the God moment. You are suddenly aware and in awe. You may stand there looking into space and declare to Him, “who am I that you love me or even care for me.” Holding your child, you may be overwhelmed with love for the child, but suddenly, there is the God moment where love is taken to a spiritual high and you know he loves more intensely than we can imagine.

Would it not be wonderful if we could have those moments at our will? They are not at our will, but His. When the God moment comes, embrace it. Obey them if there is a direction He desires. Try to sustain the moment by being quiet, allow it to echo through your being. Stop what you are doing, enjoy the moment. Maybe these God moments are like what Adam and Eve had on a daily basis. These are meant for us to enjoy, savor, and seek for more.

A move of God can be a spectacular revival type meeting across large areas or it could be that move of God in you. – Pastor Bill

A Move of God? Yes, Please!

A Move of God? Yes, Please!

 

When your heart is set on something you begin to look for it, research it, start moving toward it. You begin to look at current conditions in your life and begin to lay out a plan to get to where you want to be. In the process you must learn the hindrances to that goal. These hindrances can be exterior, extrinsic, or on the inside, intrinsic. Most times both are in play. There are things that must be moved to reach a goal. Also, there are mindsets, habits, and attitudes that must change inside our soul. The obstacles, first, must be discovered and then addressed.

It always seems easier to identify the exterior hindrances. It is far more difficult to identify the interior ones. It is so easy to rationalize the interior attitudes, prejudices, and habits because we can say “that is the way I was raised,” or, “that is just who I am.” But, if we are reaching for life change and a goal that requires change, we must be willing to work at it and make the adjustments. The excuse, “I am too old…” really does not fly. Life requires the ongoing adjustments to age and culture. (that is, if you care enough to stay relevant)

I am not talking about wholesale sell out to contemporary cultural trends because many of them are very temporal and very wrong. I am talking about staying current to be relevant to the generations around us, older and younger.

So, our goal is to see a movement, an awakening. It is about souls around us who are completely lost to the meaning and purpose of life. There are a couple of things present in this thought and vision. One of them is the world that needs Jesus and our responsibility to reach out to them. Secondly, is the church we has to prepare itself for such a move and be a part of it. There have been movements by God that large segments of the church have completely missed because they were stuck.

As I have been reading, studying, and preparing for a move of God, I have been pleasantly surprised that we have a few things in place already. We have pieces of the puzzle in place already, but need to work further on other aspects to host a movement. The Hope I preached about is one of the foundations for a movement. It is the positive trust in God for all things future and we anticipate them coming and their fulfillment.

My plan and desire is to take one step at a time. To keep us focused on the future and the move we look for.  We have taken some baby steps in the right direction. We are reaching out to the community; it is responding some. We have broadened our leadership sources with the Leadership Council, and we are conscious of growing younger.

Good start.

– Pastor Bill

We are on our Way to a New Day

We are on our Way to a New Day

 

Sunday we started the Leadership Council. The council is made up of 8 members from the congregation plus the elders. The council members are John and Courtney Lewis, Joseph Troyer, Helen Vernon, Lou Kaleel, Deb Marietta, Roy Levingston, and Tim Beougher. They will serve a one year term with the possibility of renewal. The council gives us a good cross section of the church.

The purpose of the council is to give voice and ideas from the various ages and understandings. We need to hear from younger thinkers, women’s ideas, and the voices of those who have particular passions. The purpose will be to drive the vision, adjust the vision, and take care of the business of the church. Out of the council we are hoping to inspire projects, build teams, put the church in a positive frame of mind and action.

This is a step to building next generation leadership while still engaging those who have been serving for years. As I was preaching Sunday, we all need refreshed and refurbished to handle new wine. The gospel does not change, but the cultures around the gospel change dramatically in seasons. The gospel is still good news to all people, all nations, for all time. The gospel speaks to the heart of man whether you were a Puritan from England looking for a new land of freedom to worship or a 60’s hippie who was checking out of society and looking for something to live for. Jesus impacted the Puritan and reached the hippie.

New wine is fresh and volatile, but it is still wine. It expands and works as it moves to smooth maturity. Life is like that. Babies make messes, we clean them up. Children break things and are untrained, we fix and train. Teens strive for independence and make bigger messes, we encourage them and speak of their potential. Then there is the striving of adulthood with career, family, getting started, buying a house etc. We advise and love and speak of our journey. All the while there is growth taking place. We do not reject the young, we love them. I like to share in their enthusiasm, their humor, their striving to be adult like.

Our goal in raising our kids was to come to a place where we were adult friends and family. I think we have accomplished that. We love being together with family and grandkids and great grandkids. This same thing should work in church. We should not be jealous because a young person has a gift that is better than ours or can do something better. We need to encourage them and give them opportunity to shine.

Too often the older generation is a roadblock for the young people in their growth and calling instead of being an on-ramp to the fast lane of ministry for them. As I said Sunday, there are way too many hoops that are created for the young to jump through for us to trust them or give them some responsibility. Could they fail? Sure, so could you. But, what if they succeed? Now there is something to consider and look forward to.

– Pastor Bill