Regaining the power of the Church

The rebukes of Jesus to his disciples constantly challenge me. I am especially challenged when he points out their “little faith” or “no faith.”

In Matthew 17, after Jesus has come down from the transfiguration event, the disciples have been confronted with a situation they can’t handle. The trouble they have is they experienced the spiritual battle with demons before and had cast out demons, but now this particular situation wasn’t working out the same.

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When we pray

When we come to the Lord with needs, we must come boldly. We must come with an expectation. Doubt doesn’t really belong. We may hesitate. We may wonder if anything can happen, but we can be reminded of the greatness of God. 

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Moving from Selfie to Selfless

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. (Acts 5:12-16, NIV)

Our temptation today would be to somehow “brand” that moment. Imagine Peter walking down a street today, the power of the Spirit flowing, and as he passes someone they are healed.

He stops, turns around, moves back to the one who was healed, pulls out his cell phone and says, “Could you hold those crutches up for me?” He then bends down by the person holding up their crutches, sticks his phone up in the air and snaps a selfie with the former cripple.

As he moves on, he quickly clicks on the photo and readies it to “share” on Facebook. He types in, “To the glory of God” in the status, pastes in the photo, and sends it off for his admirers to see. Think of the all the “likes” THAT will get!

We need a new Pentecost. We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. We need to move from the selfie generation where our “humble brag” is standing in front of hundreds while we snap away on our cell phone cameras and sending it out “giving glory to God.” We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit that will bring us to the realization that HE must increase… and WE must decrease. We must move from the selfie generation to the selfless generation.

I’ve heard preachers talk about having a “shadow ministry” like Peter, where they’re just walking down the street and people are getting healed. Of course, it’s in the context of them walking down the street and seeing people healed… all so a photo op can take place and they get it out on their website and social media. All for the glory of God, of course.

Maybe we don’t need “shadow” ministry so much as we need ministry in the shadows.

Maybe we need a new outpouring of the Spirit on the Church that activates us so thoroughly we carry that powerful presence with us and we actually have no idea what happens as we pass through our day. Maybe we’re at the checkout line at Target and the Spirit through us touches the person behind us. We don’t know it, but as we turned and looked at them, healing flowed. We paid our bill and walked out to the car, and that person was healed. We didn’t even know.

We don’t need a “shadow” ministry. We need ministry in the shadows.

Maybe we’re in a meeting at work and after that meeting, we offer a kind word to someone as we head back to our desk. We move on, but the Spirit overwhelms that co-worker and whispers to them, “I know where you are. You are loved with an everlasting love.” They get so overwhelmed, they slip into the bathroom and weep uncontrollably. And they really don’t know why at the time.

We need ministry in the shadows.

Ministry that allows the Spirit to flow and we don’t stop for the selfie. We simply allow the greatness of our Savior radiate from us and HE is glorified.

We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. We need a selfless generation moving in a fresh anointing… and it’s not about US any more. It’s about HIM.

Pentecost Sunday

Walking in the Miraculous, Part 2

Hesitation kills the miraculous in my life. Those moments when the Spirit says, “Do this…” and I get into an argument with him. I rationalize. I question if it’s even the Spirit speaking. I hesitate. 

Years ago I was in a Caribou getting coffee (as is my habit). I had a small journal with me along with a paperback copy of a New Testament translation that was just coming out. (This was in the days before smart phones and digital downloads.) Sitting those things on the counter, I started to order coffee. The Caribou employee saw my journal and New Testament and said, “Oh, what’s this?”

She then reached over, took the journal off the New Testament and set it aside to pick up the New Testament. She began thumbing through the paperback copy.

As I’m trying to explain to her that it was the New Testament and was a new translation I was checking out, the Spirit spoke to me: “Give it to her.”

So, now I’m trying to explain to this young lady what she’s looking at AND arguing with the Spirit.

ME: “I just bought that.”

SPIRIT: “It cost you 3 bucks.”

ME: “But I haven’t read it yet. What if it’s not a good translation?”

SPIRIT: “Give it to her.”

ME: “But it’s MINE!”

It’s a split second argument that seems to take five minutes.

She put the New Testament back down and got my coffee. I paid, scooped up my very treasured paperback New Testament and journal and walked out. I sat in the hallway at a able and sulked.

I would sip and think, “It’s my New Testament.

I even tried to open it and read it, but by that time it was simply no good. I wasn’t going to be able to read that copy. It wasn’t supposed to be mine.

After a few minutes I gave in. With “great joy” I said to the Spirit, “FINE!” and walked back into the store to give the precious New Testament to the girl behind the counter.

She was gone.

I stood there stunned. Then, I bolted out the door. This was in the skyway system in downtown Minneapolis, so there really wasn’t a place to go and be alone. I tried. I found a little cove leading to a stairwell and tried to hide from public view. In that little cove I wept. I was broken. My little tantrum with the Spirit had cost an opportunity to simply be obedient.

It was a lesson that wasn’t lost on me. The Spirit was gentle, but firm. It was a lesson to say, “Next time I tell you to give, just do it. Why I want it is not a concern to you.”

That lesson has cost me a bit more money. I don’t care.

A few months later I had another new translation. This one was a full Bible. It was hardback and had cost me some money. Quite a bit more than $3.

Sitting in a Bible study, I struck up a conversation with a new believer who had only had a KJV Bible because it was a gift Bible from when he was a kid. He was looking at my Bible.

In that moment, I didn’t even hesitate. I slid it over to him and said, “You know what? Try something more modern in language but a good translation.”

He offered to bring it back the next week. I swallowed hard and said, “No. It’s yours.”

He offered to pay for it. I swallowed hard again… “No. It’s yours.”

I need a better response time in my obedience. I need immediate obedience. Living in the miraculous is about moving past the hesitations.

God asked the widow to feed Elijah her last meal. Jesus asked the boy for his lunch to feed thousands. Peter didn’t have any silver and gold for the lame man, but he acted. 

Hesitation is a miracle killer.