Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Mystery of Gifts

I can be in a really strange space, you know, really dazed and confused, and I can pick up my guitar and start singing and find words and music flowing in worship to God which blesses me and anyone else around me. Why? I can be feeling nonplussed and sceptical, ready to judge every spiritual manifestation around me, but if the opportunity comes I can lay my hand on someone else's hurt, command it to be healed and sense God backing me up with some amount of power. Why? I can be talking to a friend and what I say is not of much importance until suddenly I'm speaking from God and I wish I was recording it, because it's so incisive and true. Why?

The answers to my why's are not answers at all. They are more or less just 'because.' And that's all there is to it. God does this thing with us for his uses and his pleasure. It amounts to "Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to make ourselves available and not to be prideful at all when there are good results because left to ourselves we never would have produced in us what he does..."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Two Big Pictures, Two Renewals

I had a phone call the day before yesterday from a dear friend. Someone from the church I just left. She said some very kind things about my essential role in praying for revival in that church and lamented that they hadn't prayed more for me personally so that thus supported, I wouldn't have had to leave. At the time of the call another ministry was hosting a revival conference in the same building and she was reporting good things from that conference. It appears that even though the conference was not a function of the church the church is being blessed by it. Well and good. But if I had been properly protected, she said, I might have been able to see the "big picture" of revival and not be troubled by the trifling concerns of the running of the church.

 Well, I have to say that there are two big pictures. There are even two renewals. One big picture is as my friend sees it. Organization, structural concerns are nothing if only God's Spirit is moving and there is the blessing of spiritual renewal poured out on the church. I have to say that I have lived in this big picture for years, myself, and for me to do what I have done and leave the church on the leaders poor performance is a bit of a departure. But I've learned there is another big picture out there. It has to do with promoting safety and good governance for the people we care about now and those who come after. You can't always overlook stuff in the hopes that when God moves it won't matter because all the small stuff will be blown away. And renewal, the showers of blessing that we long for, needs to bear good fruit in our church leadership. Too often in the course of these conferences, have speakers brought up the titled leaders in the church, abusive and ineffective, or servant-hearted and competent -- the speaker doesn't really know -- and invited everyone to bless them, because from them will flow the blessing on the rest us. Mostly it's an exercise in false affirmation. I'd like to see a conference speaker, for once, invite the leaders to examine themselves to see if they really should be leading. It won't happen, of course. Incoming speakers are dependent on existing leaders for their presence in a church. But if they did and if that actually did cause some of them to step down, that would be a different kind of renewal, and equally necessary.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

High vs. Low

I have left what what was my church for approximately 22 years. I stayed that long because of a dream. A dream, a promise, a light at the end of the tunnel, a reason to endure. I left because of a persistent clumsiness to be found in the day to day running of the church that I once loved. My ideals, my lofty beliefs in the potential of what we might become if the visitation of God's Spirit would again be manifest among us have been bludgeoned into submission by the nitty-gritty questions of "why won't they really listen for once?" and "didn't we make the same mistake last time?" and most recently, "they did what?" But I'm really not angry anymore. I actually feel so little now. I would be angry, I suppose, had I decided to continue on. But now, it's someone else's problem.

And yet I continue to believe in the Church. It's stupid not to. History is our teacher here. Up to great heights of society-imprinting awakening, down to lows of apostasy and/or legalism, it has endured past many human lives. It's a much bigger thing than this moment of my turning away from one of its organized manifestations. And I still believe in organized churches. Whatever we do or however we do it, organizing in this way is a human necessity. Those who reject this aspect of church lose an essential part of the whole. But for now, I'm warily on the look out for a place to put down roots again.