Running on one leg?

I hate to admit it, but I have been running much of my Christian life on one leg.

I have lived much of my life acknowledging the importance of the Holy Spirit.  But I have not turned to him in dependence.  And I have not seen the great things that God can accomplish through people who rely on the Spirit.

Why is that?

Off the top of my head, I can think of two reasons:

  • I rely on my head, thinking I understand the world around me and what needs to be done; and
  • I am afraid of extremes – I am afraid of losing control.

I believe I am typical of many North Americans.  But, like many others, I am convinced that the church in North America is in decline because it lacks the vitality and power of the Spirit.

The story is different in Africa, Asia and South America where the church is growing at warp speed.  Part of the reason for that growth is that Christians face far bigger problems – economic, cultural, and political – than we do in our comfortable society. Christians in the Third World must rely on God much more than we do.

Last winter, our church small group studied Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit by Jim Cymbala, a book which includes stories of the Spirit’s working in the lives of people in Cymbala’s church in New York City.  Cymbala’s book is a cry for more of the Spirit in our churches.

I heard Cymbala speak at his church – the Brooklyn Tabernacle – a couple of years ago.  He said he relies on the Spirit’s guidance from moment to moment – even changing his sermon if he senses the Spirit’s leading as he speaks.

I am now reading another book Do What Jesus Did by Robby Dawkins, a Chicago pastor, who began his life as a pastor suspicious of stories of the Spirit’s power because he knew of extremes in the church.  Now, he sees miracles and healings that were typical in the Acts of the Apostles.

Like Paul and other apostles, Dawkins always points people to God when miracles happen.  And even criminals near his church have been so struck by the power of the Spirit that they have given their lives to Jesus.

I have never been convinced by arguments that miracles were only necessary until we received the written word of God – the scriptures.  I believe God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.  He does not change.

I believe that the Spirit cannot be shackled.  Yet, at the same time, I believe that God is a God of order.  Our world would collapse without Christ sustaining it.

These thoughts swirl in my head right now.  May the Spirit bring light into my thoughts.  May he change me and the world around me.

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