Friday, July 31, 2009

Seeking Him - FAT Christians

My work through Chapter 11 has not been focused or purposeful. It's sort of sad to admit considering we had two weeks to go through it, but things have been very hectic around here. I will confess that because I know I will be revisiting this chapter in a few weeks with my Seeking Him IRL study group, some of the urgency has subsided. And there is also, I think, a part of me that is resisting the end of our study time together. I have enjoyed it immensely, making new bloggy friends and being so very blessed by this incredible study. I don't want it to end. But if I don't put my two cents in about week 11 soon, week 12 will soon have passed. Sniff.

The Holy Spirit... He is quite the controversial fellow. I come from a charismatic church, Foursquare to be specific. And we believe not only in the gift of the Holy Spirit, but the fullness of His indwelling, being "filled," and all that includes, like the manifestation of His presence and guidance through the gifts. As I type this, I feel myself treading on touchy ground.

This past weekend my husband and I had the pleasure of crashing our son's youth camp. The speaker for the camp used to be an associate pastor at our church and played a huge role in my and Neal's growth in Christ. When we found out he was coming to camp, we got permission to come up for a night. It was awesome.

The openness and expectation for the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself was strong, as is often the case at camps and retreats. People come in expectation with hearts open wide waiting upon the Lord to speak, to minister, to use and guide. As we sat in the back of the room for Saturday night's service, Neal found his way over near Jake and I wandered off by myself standing at the back of the room watching over the young people.

During worship before Pastor Nick came up to speak you could sense the eagerness and passion of our young people. As I looked over them, praying, praying in the Spirit I felt like I could hear the Lord speaking to me. These precious young people, they are lights in a dark world. They hold the cups of water in the desert. They are the hope of the next generation. When one of the leaders came up to introduce Nick he began to speak, and all the words I heard in my heart during worship he began to speak to them. Coincidence? Or was the Holy Spirit speaking?

Pastor Nick was anointed as he spoke. His passion and fervor are ever evident and this night was no different. He spoke on the Holy Spirit, about the spiritual gifts, about the instruction in the word to long for these gifts, especially prophecy, it's what the Word says. For it is through these gifts, prophecy most of all that the Lord enables us to build up the body, to encourage one another in the faith.

As Nick spoke I could sense such a heaviness over the kids, like there was a barrier preventing them from receiving the fullness of the Words being shared. In my spirit it was as though I could sense the proverbial "black cloud," so I began to pray again. I went to Neal and leaders I knew and encouraged them to pray with me to break it off of them. Slowly it began to disappear. One of the leaders had been outside and when she came in I saw her husband whispering to her. She looked over at me and nodded. She walked over and quietly assured me she had the same sense about the "heaviness" during worship and had been praying for God to break it. Coincidence? Or was the Holy Spirit speaking?

The night ended in incredible ministry. People were praying over one another, receiving new spiritual gifts, stepping out in faith, encouraging one another. It was an incredible sight to see, and an even more incredible time to participate in. The Holy Spirit was moving mightily. It was much like the accounts given in the book of Acts. Events and gifts that some say no longer occur, but I disagree. The Holy Spirit still speaks, still guides, counsels and leads. There is a "fullness" still available if only we are open, expectant. The gifts are still for today. Pastor Nick's exhortation was to be a "FAT" Christian. FAT - Faithful, Available, Teachable.

That's something that happens a lot at places like camps and retreats. People come, faithfully. They set aside their plans and schedules and make themselves completely available to hear from the Lord. And they come wanting to hear from Him, completely teachable. And in those places and at those times, the Lord always "shows up." Or so the rumor goes.

I say rumor because although the "fullness" of the Holy Spirit may manifest Himself in those times and places, the fact of the matter is, He is always with us. It's not a matter of His attendance, it's a matter of our receptiveness, our expectation and openness.

What a wonderful time we had up on that mountain top. It made me long for the days of our full time ministry to youth, but much of that season has passed, we are parents of youth and are to minister through that capacity in this season. We had the joy and privilege to pray and minister, and to allow the Spirit of God to flow through us, and it was incredible. I long to always be that aware of the Holy Spirit's presence, but alas I am not. Actually, I don't think it's awareness that is the issue, so much as the openness, birthed out of the inability or unwillingness to abide in the Lord.

Fast-forward to mid-week "down the mountain." There was some high stress around here as we tried to prep the house for an appraisal on Wednesday in order to refinance because of cumbersome financial issues and precarious situations regarding our employment situation. As the kids and I tried to get the house clean and ready I was overwhelmingly stressed on what I could see, a messy house with serious concrete (literally) issues in the front yard and a bleak financial situation. Oh the banshee who was driving my children around like slaves! Saying and doing things I am actually far too embarrassed to repeat here and spent several days since apologizing for. Week 11 on the revival study (really a 12th week), and the shrew lives. Disheartening.

What breaks my heart most of all is the moment I know that came and went, completely disregarded. I heard Him as my flesh was raging, my mouth was running, my brashness wounding. I heard the quickening in my spirit to stop, regroup, silence myself. I ignored it. It was the one time in my life being "FAT" was a good thing, and I was completely emaciated. I didn't allow myself a Holy Spirit pound to stand on, sadly by choice.

By choice? Yes, by choice. I know this because as the week has progressed, circumstantial things have not gotten any better. Honestly, they've gotten worse. This morning when I got some news, my inclination was to be overwhelmed by fear and that always leads to a fleshly response. The difference was that this time, when I heard the voice, felt the quickening, I stopped, and allowed the Holy Spirit to be my Counselor, my Comforter. He drew me back, reminded me of truth, and I didn't even have to climb a hill, much less journey to a mountain top to hear Him and respond.

In each of these situations the Holy Spirit was the same, ready, willing, dare I say longing, to fulfill His purpose in me. The difference is always, always me, my openness and expectation, and my willingness to respond. It was better that He depart, Jesus said, so the Counselor could come. So that the Spirit of God could live inside us, work through us, fulfill His purpose in us, to REVIVE our hearts.

There is a song that I hold in my heart as a prayer for the Holy Spirit and I will close with it that it may be my prayer for us all. Blessings.....

Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.
Break me, melt me,
Mould me, fill me,
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me.

Spirit of the living God,
Move among us all.
Make us one in heart in mind,
Make us one in love.
Humble, caring, selfless,sharing,
Spirit of the living God,
Fill our lives with love.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
2 Corinthians 13:14

This week's hostess is Amber at His Girl's Blog.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Anchor

The waters of circumstance rise and I lose my footing.
They toss me to and fro and I struggle to find my feet.
I’ve lost strength in me and myself,
And it’s in that moment again we meet.

“I am the God of this ocean, “ You remind me,
“I am the God of the waves.
I am the Hope of your future,
I am sovereign over all of your days.”

I remember again, You are the “I AM,”
Nothing is too hard for You.
You are for me and with me,
And nothing can hinder Your love, so true.

Circumstances will not hold me,
Trials will not control me with fear,
For my anchor is You, Your truth,
And Your truth sustains me here.

I will speak words of hope,
Because the words are true.
I will speak words of faith,
Because my faith is in You.

My Truth: I am chosen, set apart,
My hurts and fears are understood.
Your Promise: You’ll never fail me,
Your plans for me are good.

To the cross I come again,
And remember all You’ve done.
What would you ever withhold,
When You’ve given me Your Son?

Remembering my spirit renews,
The wave of faith begins to rise again.
I remember You are not afar off,
You are with me, my faithful Friend.

The wave lifts me above the challenges,
Victory over circumstance is found.
I will not tumble down and be broken,
I will be brought to solid ground.

You are my firm foundation
You satisfy my soul.
You are the Anchor in the storms,
My future You safely hold.

So I will praise you,
Whatever circumstance I see.
And I will hold to You in faith,
Because Your promises I believe.

Your Word is my light,
All of Your promises are true.
You are my faithful Friend,
And I will rest in You.

Diana DePriest
©July 30, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Farewell #14

I signed in to my blogger dashboard today and found I had lost a "follower." I only had 14, so you would think I would be more alert to who dropped off the radar, but I'm sad to say I'm not. It's an interesting balance to maintain for me, I mean I assume choosing to "follow" means that someone has found that they consistently benefit from reading my blog, whether it's for pleasure, insight, interest - whatever the case may be; and of course you want that for your blog, for it to be somehow beneficial, but ultimately, it cannot be the reason I write it.

What?? Yeah, that's what I said. The reason I started this blog some 15 months and 171 posts ago was because it was an act of obedience. I was struggling with an outlet for my giftings at the time. I found myself at a very difficult women's retreat and I was crying out to the Lord. Over the course of that weekend the Lord spoke significant things to me, and among them was His directive to me to "write." I knew it was a personal ministry for me, a flow of ministry perhaps.... hopefully, with the freedom to express my exhorter's heart. Within a few days from coming home from that retreat I had a friend who had been praying for me tell me she felt led of the Lord to encourage me to blog. I took it as the direction I was seeking from God on His instruction to write.

Now here we are over 4,000 hits later, and I feel sort of stalled. I wonder to myself if this is what the Lord wanted me to do, what was His purpose. There certainly has been no great move of God that I can perceive coming from this little page of mine. I don't receive many comments, not a great deal of feedback, when I do it's mostly positive, but it's really pretty rare. My inclination is to become discouraged, disheartened even. Then something stops me, Someone.

When the doors of opportunity were open, I used to get to teach a lot. Well, again, they call it "teaching Bible study," but for me it was more of an exhortation to the body, an equipping of God's people, that is really where my heart is at. And although I used to get a great deal of positive verbal feedback, I was always anxious and nervous before I'd start. I would have no confidence in my ability to impart truth. Then the Lord would quicken my spirit and remind me, if one person was blessed by my sharing the word of encouragement, then I had served well.

So now I sit here wondering about the mystery that is the disappearing #14, and I realize, all I can do is be me, be transparent and share my heart. That's why I named the blog "My Walk of Faith," because it is the reality that is my life... one day at a time I am doing my best to follow after the Lord, seek His will and plan for my life, and do my best to stumble as little as possible, all the while trusting in His grace to make it. I've always found it hard to find people who are just willing to live their lives openly, warts and all, and I want to be that person in the lives of those around me. I want to be a person who will say to you honestly, this "following Christ" deal is tough. It's not some magic transformation into an easier life. In reality, I think it may be the hardest thing on earth to do, to follow the Lord. It's an upward climb always, it's a difficult adventure, but in the end, I know it's going to have been so completely worth it.

I want this page to be about muddling through together, because we are all just really muddling through. Take joy, it's a victorious muddling, but a muddling through just the same. My apologies to #14, I hope I didn't offend you or something. I hope that the Lord has just provided something better for you wherever you are today. Thank you for the time you took to follow along. I hope at least a little or on occasion I was able to bless you in some small way. And I pray the Lord bless you in your future.

So I continue to write this blog, knowing it probably won't ever leave any kind of indelible mark on the world, but if perhaps I have the great blessing of ministering to or encouraging just one person, then I will have accomplished some small part of God's purpose and plan for me. I would encourage you also today, that although sometimes what we do may seem insignificant, if we can bless just one person that the Lord loves, then perhaps we will make His presence shine just a little bit brighter in this place.