Check Out the FIRST CHAPTER:
Who’s In Charge?
I am leaving church and wondering why I feel empty and unchanged. I am still facing the same problems that I went in with, still fighting the same devils, and still having the same difficulties. Something must be wrong with me. After all, everyone else was proclaiming what a great service it had been. Let’s look back at the order of events. Somewhere right in the middle of Pastor’s sermon, Sister Shout’em stood up and began speaking in tongues which then had a domino effect on the whole congregation. Next Brother Fannie Fanner ran down the aisles, which then prompted Sister Seizure to get up and begin a slow twisting contortion of movements; all in the name of being a Spirit-filled church. During all of this activity, my Catholic friend ‘s eyes are big as saucers, my Baptist neighbor is watching the commotion with eyebrows furrowed, and a high school friend across the room has a confused look on his face and later proclaims, “I would have participated but I don’t know ‘Hebrew’ ”! I am sure this statement caused a chuckle from all of my Charismatic and Pentecostal brothers and sisters due to the fact that we all have stories to tell just like this. There always seems to be visitors attending these church services that don’t understand the ins and outs of “spirit-filled” activity.
Scenario Two. Many years and experiences later…
I am sitting in a church service where there is no disorder. In fact, everything is scheduled down to the minute and states this in the church bulletin. You know that at 11:22 you will be praying and at 11:25 the Pastor will begin his sermon. As I am sitting there, I am secretly wishing someone would shoot me and put me out of my misery. At least then I would be as dead as the rest of these people. The Minister of Music leads us as we sing hymns out of a hymnal that should have been burned long ago. Every song is as dismal as the one before it. We recite the “creed” in as monotone voices as we can muster, say the Lord’s Prayer with as little enthusiasm as we can, all leading to the pomp and circumstance of receiving the offering. We then turn to the sermon. Pastor Perfect gets up, makes a feeble attempt at a lame joke and then proceeds to preach a canned sermon he downloaded off of the internet on Saturday. You shake the Pastor’s hand while leaving and wonder, “Is something wrong with me? I feel empty and unchanged. I am still facing the same problems that I went in with, still fighting the same devils, and still having the same difficulties. Everyone else stated what a good service it was. It must be me!”
Scenario Three. Somewhere in the middle of the two extremes described above…
I am arriving at a church service and as I enter, the Greeter, following the lead of Holy Spirit, speaks a word of encouragement to me. As service begins, the Praise and Worship team leads us in song after song that is uplifting, encouraging, and worshipful. As we have a time of greeting I see multiple people being ministered to by other members. Pastor Agape begins to speak as Holy Spirit leads him. You see, all week he has laid prostrate before Father God seeking the “Word of the Lord” for the people. What he knows is that we all live in a difficult world, we all have different problems and different needs and that only God knows how to minister to each one of us. As he begins to share the Word of the Lord, different ones are being ministered to, in totally different ways. Some go forward for personal ministry time, while others received ministry through the body. I leave feeling full of the Holy Spirit, empowered to fight the devils I have been facing and encouraged to know that Father God knows just where I am, just what I am facing, and just what I need to do about it. I am not wondering if something is wrong with me because I am the one leaving proclaiming “what a great service this was”.
Now, I know some of you can relate to at least one of the scenarios above and some of you believe I have exaggerated them all. But, what I know is that all three occur because I have been a part of all of them. In the first scenario, all activity was done in the name of being Spirit-filled. What I can tell you is that Holy Spirit had nothing to do with most of the activity that occurred there week after week. In that story, the Pastor couldn’t even finish his sermon because of interruption from the body. Holy Spirit would never interrupt Himself. Holy Spirit would never cause the attention to be on man (or woman), He always points to Jesus. Most of those individuals will tell you “Holy Spirit made me do it”. Holy Spirit never forces anyone to do anything. He gently leads and directs. He is a gentleman and acts as such. The culprit is not Holy Spirit; it is man acting on emotion.
Holy Spirit was also not to be found in the second scenario. He had been scheduled right out of the service. In the name of being proper and orderly, Holy Spirit was never consulted. Pastor didn’t stop to think about all of the people coming in hurting and bound that needed a touch from Holy Spirit. He planned the service and executed it perfectly, in order to get the people to the local buffet before other church-goers arrived. Those same hurting people left still hurting with no encouragement, no direction, and no hope of change. Holy Spirit was not allowed to work in their lives that day.
What we must understand, as the Body of Christ, is that we must allow Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in all that we do. God has set forth a system for the body to edify itself. He has given us gifts so that we can build each other up, meet each others needs, and point each other in the right direction. We must understand the importance of being led by the Holy Spirit. It is He who knows each person’s needs and difficulties and how to minister to them. We are all in need of ministry and direction at one time or another. It is wonderful to have a church body that recognizes that and allows Holy Spirit to do His job. When you are in need, you don’t care about someone else’s opinion, but what you are interested in is the Word of the Lord for that moment. This is the norm for the church in scenario three. It is not only achievable but it is operational even as we speak. You just have to seek it out. Whether you are the catalyst for change in your church body or you seek out a church body that already operates in this manner, you can help change the way the church as a whole does business. You can be a part of the Body of Christ that moves the church forward. We have to reclaim the power and the integrity that the church has lost. We can be the bride that Jesus is waiting for. Let’s allow Holy Spirit to lead us in that direction.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Creation House (May 4, 2010)
***Special thanks to Laurie L Webb for sending me a review copy.***
Laurie L Webb is Director/Instructor at Spirit Life School of Ministry (www.SpiritLifeSchool.org) in Macon, Georgia. She began attending church at the age of six and accepted Jesus as her personal Savior as a pre-teen but did not become serious about her relationship with God until her early twenties. Since then, she has attended Family Bible Institute and become an Ordained Minister. Along with her husband, Buddy, she was a youth minister for several years and taught Bible studies in her local church and community. Presently she teaches and is Director of SLSM in Macon. She and Buddy have been married for 24 years and have two beautiful daughters, Lindsay and Katie.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Creation House (May 4, 2010)