Friday, September 21, 2007

Sail in the Breath of God

The one thing most essential and yet most feared in revival is the Holy Spirit. People have been misinterpreting the signs and symptoms of his presence from the beginning of the church age. His activity and influence are often seen as excessive, ecstatic, and irrational. I guess I'd be reticent about embracing something causing those reactions too. That's not what's happening in revival, but why is the Holy Spirit's influence often mistakenly perceived as raw emotion or irrational foolishness?

One possible answer is that the Holy Spirit, moving among us, makes God tangibly real. That is a spooky, scary proposition for sinful mankind. It has been since the beginning of the human race. God at walk in the garden wouldn't seem a frightful image, but sin distorts perception and makes us cower in fear away from a very approachable God. Even more frightful is when he shows up at the camp in power. His presence, all too real, is overpowering, so we'd rather let someone else deal with him. We'd rather stay comfortably in the bushes, capable of ignoring him from our lair, able to go on with life unaffected. Religion doesn't seem to make one any less likely to adopt such an approach. The religious always fight revival-- better to classify it as emotional excess, so that it can avoided proscriptively and dismissed if it should sneak past resistance and break out in some quarter.

Another possible answer is the human desire for control. That too has been around since the beginning of sinful humankind. It's not consistent though-- folk will let anything and anyone lead them down the primrose path, as long as it's not God. When we do follow God, we tend to adopt the boxed variety, not the One who can meet us up close and personal and rock our world. Emotions can be difficult to control, that's why big boys (what I was told when young) and big girls (thanks Fergie and Frankie Vale) don't cry. Don't let that tiger out of the bag! Equate revival with emotionalism and the rationale of suppression is turnkey ready.

To step past the cherubim and see God, and walk with him in the garden, we are going to have to humble ourselves and let God be God whatever the consequences. Control is an illusion we have to be disabused of. It only keeps God from being real to us and us from being real with him. What's needed is sensitive men and women, unafraid to sail in the breath of God.


Anonymous said...

Some of us were raised in the stoicism of the church and you didn't boogy two steps and God forbid make any sound. Though at age 16, in that same church after my conversion, singing from a simple hymnal, I ever so quietly trembled with tears running down my face Sunday after Sunday. His love, forgivess, and presence just "melted everything inside of me." You know, God is the creator of emotions.

There is something about when the natural comes in contact with the supernatural (presence) of the Holy Spirit, that produces an often visible reaction in our emotions. I remember the first time I was ever in a spirit-filled/charismatic/pentecostal church. It did not frighten me but rather there was something inside of me that said, "This is real...not fake. These people have something they believe in." Just like when I go to a ballgame and see all of the emotional clamor for "our team." I have found I am emotional when I am rooting for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

The flip side of this emotion in revival is the flesh and that is the part that can be confusing to believers, as well as nonbelievers. What is of the Holy Spirit and what is not. I have seen my share of flakey behavior that was no more God than a man in the moon...just a flesh display.
As I mentioned earlier, Azusa had that problem which in time was to their demise. It takes an astute, spiritual leader to discern what is true and what is false in a meeting, without killing the "move of the Spirit." And, sometimes there are just some things that are hard to explain, like a whole section of a congregation hysterically flipping over their pews backwards. This was in a Kenneth Hagin meeting where there was no way it could have been orchestrated by man. Hagin merely stretched out his arm towards one section of the audience and began to pray in tongues and suddenly, altogether, it happened.(??)

I know there is a balance but revival tends to produce a greater outward display of man's emotions. After all, what greater thing in this life can one experience than the awesome presence of God with the new birth or the manifestation of physical healings and miracles. I suspect the upper room was quite a "show," as well.

SLW said...

Yeah, a show that spilled out into the street. Imagine what people would say if that happened today!

Anonymous said...

When man desires to "control," it gets all messed up...either there is a flesh display or no display (of the Holy Spirit). We have to have our thumb on everything, you know, even when it comes to God. The Lord knew what He meant when He said, "Quench not the Spirit." Like David, we might be thought a fool. We should humble ourselves more...He might come more, do more and we would see more.

Anonymous said...

yes, we should give up our fancy of control. for we either serve God or we serve the enemy.

and i say that with no opinion of revival or any other thing...for i do not know.

the Holy Spirit is working through me and all of you who believe in Jesus. no one knows how that will show itself to us. but, there are ways to discern.

we must each be aware of this and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our selves and in the Body.

i do know, that i want to serve only God, and so i must obey my God in suffering and in joy, in laughter and crying, in singing and in silence, in trusting my God and fearing only Him.

SLW said...

"We should humble ourselves more...He might come more, do more and we would see more."

But Amerikan, that is exactly what the religious are trying to avoid! ;-)

SLW said...

Revivals are periods when God seems to be orchestrating an unusual awareness of him and passion to serve him among a broad swath of the population, more or less, simultaneously. This movement can start with just a few instruments but quickly has a whole orchestra joining in the symphony.

Anonymous said...

slw, "a whole orchestra joining in the symphony." How beautiful! Can you imagine, the body of Christ moving in such intricate musical hormony. slw, what a desciption of revival...each playing a very crucial part where none is more important than the other because their attention is set on who is most important of all...Jesus.

I remember reading in the Welsh revival where they would just sit in complete silence, sometimes an hour and then the spirit would begin to move over here with a message, a tongue and on the other side a song, a psalm or a cry from a heart of prayer, all totally orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. In that place of the unhindered will of man, must God be able to do His most.

And if a night of that wasn't enough, they then entered the streets of the city arm in arm singing the praises of God. Such a testimony to humanity that the bars and taverns were all closed and the policemen were out of work.

Where must our desires, will, and hunger be, today?

SLW said...

Amerikan asked,
"Where must our desires, will, and hunger be, today?"

The longer I live in the day and age in which I live, the less and less I have a clue as to what that answer must be.

Anonymous said...

just a little something to tap your toes to...

i very much liked your vision of a symphony orchestra...i can see it now. the Holy Spirit is so wonderful!

i must have been a part of one in the seventies...and did not realize it at the time exactly what it was. it all really seamed normal at the i was very young. i remember going to a big even in college. i can no remember what they were called, but, they were big outdoor concerts with Jesus music and camping. i remember the 2nd chapter of acts coming to play at the college at siu. it is all kind of a very good blur. there was only a few Jesus albums...yes, albums. Phil Keggy, Barry what's his name, can't remember. um. michael o'martin...white horse i think. getting late.

SLW said...

We must be contemporaries, roughly. I was a big Phil Keaggy and a humungous Keith Green fan; 2nd Chapter of Acts and Randy Stonehill too, and even the Imperials were staples my listening repertoire. Contemporary Christian music was in it's infancy back then, unfortunately there wasn't much variety, it wasn't produced very well, and it was in desperate need of songwriters. There are still Christian music festival events with big tents and whatnot, but back then is when it was all getting established.

I turned to Christ while in college (PSU) too. I never realized until I was out, looking back, that what was going on in State College in the late 70's was revival. I thought it was normal, it looked like the Bible. Only when I got around to other places and other churches did I realize what we had experienced there was not at all what "normal" churches were experiencing.

When I went to Bible College, I began to study Church history, specifically Revivals, and the lights went on. I realized what made that experience so different was that it was revival.

Thanks for the clip. We used to sing that song in a folksy arrangement at Campus Crusade meetings at college! Ah, nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

if that was what we call revival...then i long for it, also. it will be a wonderful revival when Jesus returns! but, until then, it would be great to be able to see the Spirit blow it around again...starting with the woodwinds and playing throghout the whole orchestra! If it is God's will, i pray, in Jesus, for this rivival from the Holy Spirit. amen

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Slw, my undergraduate college years were from 1967-71 and I was pleased to hear of your involvement in Campus Crusade. We had a stong CCC chapter on our state university campus and I still keep in touch with some of those early Christian friends. One of them became a roommate of mine and we have been lifelong friends. I fondly remember the treasured memories of those years...the times of Bible study, sharing and prayer...nothing like it.

Nancy, "If it is God's will, I pray,in Jesus, for this revival from the Holy Spirit." I don't mean to be smug but it is most definitely His just must be our desire of desires. And then it will happen.

Anonymous said...

slw...the wind is blowing. i hear the woodwinds, i feel the low beat of the drum. slw, it is time.
i know it. don't you just feel like jumping and dancing!?