Frustrating

On Sunday, we attended Open Door Ministries with my supervisor and her family.  We hung out after church for lunch, and had a good time.  What was immediately evident about ODM was that they are a “Spirit-filled” church.  They definitely believe that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit exist today, especially speaking in tongues and prophecy.  They also have a hint of “health and wealth” theology.  That wasn’t what frustrated me (I kind of expected it).  What frustrated me was thinking about my “tribe”–the churches of Christ/Christian churches.

We must think the Holy Spirit is tired.

When we look in the Bible at the book of Acts, Pentecost was a big deal, and several years later He made a big splash at a dude named Cornelius’ house.  The New Testament definitely shows that the Holy Spirit was at work, and not just in the supernatural gifts.  He was changing lives and transforming people, who transformed cities.  All that effort in the first thirty years of the church’s existence must have worn Him plum out, because in my “tribe” we’ve relegated the Holy Spirit to coming to live in a person at their baptism… and then He just seems to chill out and relax.

I know why that is–we’ve swung the pendulum to the other side of Pentecostalism.  We don’t want to be a bunch of “holy rollers” or crazy people who bark like dogs and roll around in the aisles or shout out loud in crazy, nonsensical words.  But in the process, we’ve relegated the Holy Spirit to, well, not much at all.

I’m still what the smart guys with PhD’s call a cessationist.  I think (and on solid, biblical grounds) that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit (like tongues and prophecy, etc.) were for a limited season in the church–until the death of the twelve apostles and the completion of the writing of the Bible.  It’s not that He can no longer do it–it’s simply how God chose to do things.  With the completion and distribution of the Bible, the miraculous gifts (which acted like scafolding until the Bible could be completed) were phased out.  However, the Holy Spirit is still as active as ever.  He’s changing people, making them holy, leading them to take kingdom-sized risks, and is involved in some phenomenal movements of kingdom expansion around the globe.

So, I’m frustrated.  I’m frustrated that I was never taught or guided how to listen to the Holy Spirit outside of reading the Bible (which I still believe is His primary way of communicating to us).  It’s been a tough road, but I’m learning how to listen for His prompting.

So how can we allow the Holy Spirit to do His thing and be more open to His working in our lives?

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About Aaron

Aaron is a follower of Jesus. He's married to his smokin' hot wife Laura and is the father of three adorable girls. He enjoys a robust cigar, a complex root beer, a good movie, writing, football, thought-provoking books, and rousing discussions about subjects you're not supposed to talk about (like theology and politics). Religious people irritate him (because he once was one). He's on a quest to find the perfect dry rub and sauce for ribs.
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6 Responses to Frustrating

  1. Doug Talley says:

    I agree with your thought about swinging to the other side of the pendulum. It’s like hydroplaning in a car and oversteering to correct it. We tend to oversteer when trying to steer clear of something we disagree with, to the point we hinder the STILL-powerful working and nature of the Holy Spirit. We certainly don’t care if we tell those “inappropriate” jokes, have filthy language, dabble with alcohol to the dangerous point of loosing our sobriety in order that we may enjoy the spoils of worldly “fun”, have bitterness, gossip, etc. But throw in that taboo topic of the Holy Spirit, and we put up our guard as if it’s the plague! Do we thus render ourselves powerless because of our denial of or lack of acknowledgement of the Counselor, Peace-giver, and understanding-giver Himself?

  2. David Willis says:

    YEah I don’t have it all ficured it out either. I’m still stunned at the idea the the Holy Spirit resides in me! WOW!

  3. Stuart says:

    I have mixed feelings. Even ignoring the sensational stuff, I still often shake my head (well, on the inside) when I hear people talking about the Spirit leading them. Too often it is questionable at best if that’s really the case. It kind of irks me when people attribute something to the Holy Spirit that is not something he is doing.

    On the other end, and resonant with your post, I hate it that the Spirit is often a topic of discussion more than an active agent in our lives (as we grasp it, that is).

    So, I guess I don’t like the idea of labeling things as the work of the Spirit, and though I am eager to let him work, I’m am not 100% sure what it’s supposed to look or feel like. I sometimes have experiences (I hope no one gets turned off by that word) where I feel comforted, inspired (divine inspiration! get a load of that!), encouraged, strengthened, etc. Maybe that’s it somewhat. Personally, I think it’d be easier to recognize possible occurrences if I were a more willing and submissive host.

  4. Michael Morris says:

    So how can we allow the Holy Spirit to do His thing and be more open to His working in our lives?

    I’m beginning to wonder in my own life if the reason I don’t hear more from the Holy Spirit is because I won’t stay connected without talking a blue streak. Seriously, the way I was “taught” to pray was to ring up God “Our Heavenly Father or Lord”, then follow that with a non-stop diatribe including everyone that comes to mind that has a problem, everything for which I’m thankful, petitions to remove whatever trials exist in my life (even though He may have placed them there for a reason). I then top that all off by the signature ring off “In Jesus name I pray, Amen”….then go back to my life to see what will happen.

    I’m starting to connect in prayer with God, and instead of just talking a blue streak…just sit attentively and listen.

    Sure we “say” the Holy Spirit is one of three persons in the Trinity…but we seldom talk to him as we would anyone else.

    Gee, I wonder why I don’t hear what He has to say more….?

  5. Aaron says:

    Good thoughts, guys.

  6. Laura says:

    I think that there are certain times in my life when I know without a doubt that the Holy Spirit was influencing me/guiding me in a certain direction. I remember very vividly in college praying about whether or not I should go on a semester long trip to Asia and I felt this strong, deep urge from within–I don’t know how else to explain it–and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was suppose to go on this missions trip. I had never had that feeling before and I can’t really explain it but I just had this peace of mind that I was doing the right thing and that it was what I was suppose to do.

    More recently I have felt that same urging–I felt it a couple years ago when our church was trying to decide where God was leading us as far as transitioning to house churches. And then again last summer when I was driving home from NC and kept thinking that we needed to move from VA to NC. Out of the blue I got this thought in my head that we needed to do it so we could start house churches here. I got that same familiar deep down urge to about it.

    I am still skeptical when Christians say they feel the Spirit leading them to do something–because I don’t think that it is something that happens on a daily basis. I think some people are TOO casual with how they refer to the Spirit. However I do think that the Spirit does guide us in certain directions at times if we are open and ready to listen.

    A friend of ours recently shared an experience that he had several years ago when he had this thought (out of the blue!) to share something with a fellow Christian that seemed bizarre to him at the time but once he shared it with this person it made complete sense and was an amazing comfort to this person. Another friend shared on her blog recently about feeling compelled to tell a stranger who was a believer something that came into her head during a sermon her hubby was preaching. She knew nothing about this man but felt that she just had to share this with him and when she did he was comforted and grateful to her for sharing it with him. The Holy Spirit is a comfort to us and I think these are ways that He comforts us–through other believers.

    I think these are examples of ways that the Holy Spirit moves within us and guides us. Sometimes it’s just a simple thought that pops up “out of the blue” and we can’t explain where the thought came from and sometimes it’s an urging or a feeling that “this is what I’m suppose to do.”

    Sorry to be so long winded babe. It is 8:30 and I’ve been up for 19 out of the last 22 hours! Hope this all makes sense!!!

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