Posts tagged ‘baptism of the holy spirit’

Old Memory, New Desire.

I remember it clearly.

That morning, as a minister on staff at a the church that I had grown up in, the very same church that I preached my first sermon in, I told the new pastor that I was leaving the congregation. Looking back now, I didn’t do it right, but that’s not the point of this post. I remember the very first time that I felt the Holy Spirit stirring my heart as we sang a hymn that I had sang all of my life without any emotion whatsoever. I remember fighting back tears, not wanting to look dumb as I sang along with the church choir in my very best operatic voice.

I remember that Sunday, because I had long since recognized that I needed something more. I needed what the people in my wife’s church had. I didn’t just want it. I NEEDED it like a crack addict fiends for that next hit. I had to have it. And so I remember. I remember burning rubber after the service was over, eager to get to the my new church home. When we got there, the Pastor was still preaching. I don’t remember what he was preaching about. It doesn’t even matter. All that matters is when he made his appeal, I remember being so worked up, that I jumped from my seat in the back, and with a vise grip on my wife’s hand, drug her to the front of the church. I wonder what I must have looked like…a man in a suit with the ugliest face EVER! i didn’t care. I wanted what they had. I wanted to know WHO they danced and sang for. I WANTED the Holy Spirit! It was the first time that I had ever felt driven to my knees by the power of the Holy Spirit. I felt hands on me, and I heard people praying, but none of it even translated into my shaking body.

When I rose, I had a new church home. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I began reading everything that I could find on receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I prayed for it constantly, not quite having it register that it happened from the moment I asked in faith. Whenever I felt the Lord speaking a word for someone, I never hesitated one time to give that word to that person. Most times, it was spot on! I was on a high. i was young, dumb, and full of a desire to please God. My praise went from listless notes to shouted voicings of adoration. My worship frequently involved tears and bowing low in the presence of God.  Every spare piece of change I had went towards buying books that i thought would help me understand what was happening to me. I watched TBN and TCC, and any other thing that i could that i thought would help me become who God was creating. The other young ministers who were along with me…we were so on fire! Those were the days. I think back to those days, how we didn’t want to pastor. We just wanted to work. We just wanted to touch lives and allow God to rock the world of everyone that we met. We frequently laid hands on people. We felt like we had a movement that was centered on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was being revealed to us.

Fast forward to today in service. My Pastor continued his series on “Changing Your Sound”. He focused on worship. And while he said many things, there was one thing that stood out to me. It was in Luke, I believe, where the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet appears. She worships Him in the midst of men who felt like she did not belong, because of her sinful past. Yet, she worshiped Him with her tears, her hair, and her oil. My Pastor mentioned the fact that the disciples weren’t even worshiping Him at that moment. They had become a little too familiar with Jesus. They had been walking with him for a while now, and had seen Him do all manner of miracles, and preach the most profound messages ever. Jaded? maybe. Callous? Possibly. Either way, they knew Him. The Pharisees thought that they knew what “good living” was. They weren’t worshiping Him. This woman, this harlot, came in and showed them what true worship was. She probably had heard of this man, Jesus, but she didn’t “know” him. But, she worshiped him.

The memory above came flooding back to me. I want that. i need that overwhelming desire back. We get so wrapped up in wanting to know God’s will. Sometimes, all it takes is just to remember that first moment of need for God. Sometimes, all we need is just to remember where He has brought us from; how His blood has cleaned up the wretched messes that we were, and sometimes are. I was convicted on how I have focused on the wrong thing..made mission the main thing, when just worshiping Him should have been. In truth, I have no mission unless He gives me vision. And how can He give me vision without spending real time in His presence to just know Him more?

Lord, don’t let me become so familiar with you that I become callous to Your presence, and forget what I was created to do. I pray that everything in my life concerning you would become fresh. I pray that my heart would be fresh and raw, exposed, and transparent. I pray that my jealousies, ambitions, pride, Lord anything that I would even THINK that i could boast about, I pray that it would be washed away. Make my worship new. Make my need for you new. Amen.

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An Honest Assessment

We just recently returned home from a trip to our home in the South. Being down there raised so many emotions, and it was really surprising to me that I had to filter through so many conceptions and misconceptions concerning ministry and my role in it.

I can still remember sitting in my car and telling God yes. He called me to preach. he called me to minister. For reasons unbeknownst to me, He saw something in me 10 years ago that He wanted to use. Now, 10 years later, I still can’t quite figure out what that “something ” is. There is a stark difference in the way ministry is looked at between where I’m from and where I am now. If we had remained home, I would most certainly be a Pastor of a church by now- probably would have been pastoring for a few years now. I was being groomed for it, and my wife was being groomed to be a Pastor’s wife. It is almost like a farm system, where you are trained to preach. The saying is that the only way to grow a preacher is to let them preach! When I was home, in my first church, I came up without any pastoral leadership. Our church was without a Pastor, so I had all of the opportunity to preach that a new preacher could ever ask for. They licensed me, and I was sure that I would be the Pastor of that church one day.

Then I lost interest, because God was moving me into something new. I left that church and went along with my wife, because God wanted to show me that the Holy Spirit was real. It was in that church that I first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was in this church that I proudly served as an Associate Minister with 7 other dynamic, spirit-filled men. We sat in the pulpit. We preached with fire and intensity. We prayed in loud voices until we were hoarse at the end. I lead an intercessory prayer ministry. I co-lead with my best friend in a class that saw so many get baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was fine with the status quo. I knew that I’d go through classes soon, and then get an assignment to a church. I would be a Pastor, which is what God was calling me too anyway. I was fine with that.

Until I wasn’t anymore.

What I saw many times were young preachers put in churches where the congregations were not growing, and were more interested in upholding the traditions and stories of the past, than building new stories in the present. It was frustrating. I felt like God required more. And when He moved us to Missouri, I finally saw that there was in fact MORE to being a minister than simply preaching. Over the last 6 years, I’ve had to repent several times, because at times it has felt like the wheels have been spinning, while no distance was covered. I have been hard on myself, harder as I have gotten older.

So, this trip home was a little difficult on my psyche. I don’t mind admitting that. See, for every question of how we were doing, there was another question as to whether or not I was a Pastor yet. Reminders of those of my spiritual kin who were now pastoring were never far away. Ministers younger than I, working dutifully in churches that were growing and thriving. I began to feel the old feelings of jealousy and insecurity began to resurface. Cause see, where I live now, there appears to be a way to work up into Pastoral ministry. It seems to begin with working as a youth pastor, and then being granted more responsibility from there. But in my case, I have never felt the leading to work primarily in that capacity. So what does that mean? Was I not good enough? Had I not been chosen after all? With every fiber of my being, i want to feel as if I am some use to God, but by that same token, I harbor deep-seated ambition. I recognize, and admit to that. I’m flawed.

Despite my honest feeling here, in my spirit I know the time will come when God will say “NOW!”. If I have matured anywhere, it’s in knowing how to separate what my feelings are telling me versus what I know to be true in my spirit. My life these past 6 years has been filled with a richness of life experiences that have shaped my personal view of who God is and how faith works. I have a personal theology that is dear to me. And while at times, it really feels like maybe God hasn’t called me at all, I also know that had He not called me, my life would have probably been a bit easier to this point. lol. I know that’s not really a concrete thing to say, but I know that it is true.

So, how do I reconcile all of this? I mean, God has called me to minister and Pastor one day. I serve, and I serve, and I watch. I celebrate those who are working according to the vision that God has given them. I serve within their visions until God shows me my own. I counteract any jealousy that comes up with praise for what God is doing in lives via those ministers and Pastors. Just in my own church, the youth Pastors are putting something really special together, something that will shape a generation for years to come. Our JR High Pastors are working to develop identities in those kids that will counteract what culture tries to tell them. Our elementary and preschool Pastors are pouring into those kids hardcore. Until further notice, my job is to serve with them.

Finally, I trust God. He knows what He is doing. He is preparing me for something that I can’t handle right now. And while that just feels so counter to what I have been raised with my whole life, it’s where I am right now, and I’m at peace with it.

finally.

God be praised.