Hey, Sweet Things!
I’m writing this post to you on Saturday night from the seat of a gigantic United Airlines plane on my connect flight from DC back to Houston. The Living Proof Live team and I had the tremendous privilege of serving in Providence, Rhode Island and God worked in such a distinct way that I will remember it for many years. I hope forever. God is doing something different this year at LPL. I don’t quite know how to define it but I have been flat-on-my-face grateful that He is not only still in it but stirring the pot. Not one of us on the team wants to be there a moment longer than Jesus is. We don’t even want Him to make an obligatory “appearance” because He loves us and feels sorry for us after we’ve scheduled all of this. We want the event to be proactively Jesus for His own sake and for His own glory and because it is a delight to Him and because He looks forward to it. Nothing less than that and, if it’s not that, we want Him to move us each elsewhere.
It’s so strange. We began this year looking back to the previous 15 but, by our 3rd event, it was like we all fixed our faces forward as if nothing in the world mattered but what was in front of us. No “yesterday’s plan.” No “yesterday’s work.” This is today. Something is up. Something new to us. There is something liberating and also a little frightening about just saying to Him, “Do what You want, God. Anything You want. We’re in it with You or we’re not in it at all. All bets are off.” Anyway, I’m not sure why I went off on all of that. God just really has my eyebrows high on my forehead right now wondering what He’s doing.
I have a group of about 30 of you Siestas fresh on my mind because we met up quickly after the event for our group picture. These were your northeastern sisters and the cutest things you can imagine. Well, just like all of you are. All ages and types, with this one glorious bond: the lively love of Jesus Christ. I am so crazy about you guys. I cannot fathom the grace of God to have stirred up a community of encouragement in Christ where relationships really do seem to have some substance to them. It’s an anomaly that still isn’t wasted on me.
You have marked my journey of faith. You’ve encouraged me and made me want to keep running my race energetically and earnestly. You’ve helped me get back up even at times when you didn’t know I was down. You have been a harbor of joy, peace, and laughter in an online Christian world that can be astonishingly fractured. You are a corner of courageous gentleness in a culture that has lost its manners.
And, good grief, you guys have impacted my Scripture memory life so dramatically that I hardly have words. After every Living Proof Live when we meet up for our (clandestine) Siesta picture, I always ask, “Will I be seeing any of you in January at our SSMT celebration?” Invariably there are those who answer with infectious enthusiasm, “YES!” It makes me so happy. The previous celebrations have been like a family reunion on steroids. I hope so much you’re staying up with your Scripture memory, saving your money, and planning to head to Houston that weekend. We aren’t really a beautiful city but we’re a happy one and a hospitable one, I believe I can confidently say. And we can offer you Tex Mex at virtually every four way stop. I mean, what more could you want, people?
The verse I’ve chosen this time around is one God seemed to lift from the page of my early morning Scripture reading last Monday. I continued to say it and pray it throughout the week and referenced it several times this weekend in Providence. It’s easy to memorize and it puts a concept in a nutshell that is as vital as breath to us in this believing life we’re living. Here it is:
Beth, Houston. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Corinthians 4:20 NIV
God is using it to remind me that this thing isn’t about incessant chatter and nonstop Twitter noise and learning to speak fluent Christianese. It’s not tantamount to Bible banter and doctrinal debates and holy hair-splitting. It’s not about getting together at church and threatening week after week to live changed lives and think renewed thoughts. It’s not about getting all lathered up and sweaty-headed at events over theories of effective, influential, and abundant lives. This Christ thing to which we’ve been called is about actually doing it and through an unction not remotely our own.
When the Holy Spirit comes, He comes with power.
Where the Holy Spirit goes, He goes with power.
Whom the Holy Spirit infiltrates, He infuses with power.
Our lives were meant to be powerful. Less talk. More demonstration. Through things like a love that we know good and well is utterly beyond us and a faith that emerges in tact from a minefield soaked in blood and strewn with flesh. We were meant to be able to do what we can’t, like who we don’t, bless who we’d curse. We were promised strength in weakness and extravagant grace in our deprivation.
We were meant to wonder what has derailed or gone awry when a season of our lives persists in powerlessness for weeks on end. We were promised more than this. We’re not meant to write our own personalized chapters in a revised standard version of The Emperor’s New Clothes so the world could have a harder laugh at us. We who have placed our trust in Christ Jesus, the living, breathing-on-us Son of God, have been clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49) And it’s supposed to show.
Every limb of our lives where we welcome the Holy Spirit can be infused with strength not of this world and, yes, even in continued weakness or infirmity, should that be the case of our present calling. The coexistence of the two is the mystery of it. We’re not superwomen. We’re a long shot from perfect. But we were meant to be vividly powerful through the One who saved us and made Himself at home in us. Let’s not forget that today. Let’s not be satisfied just to talk about it. Let’s not just clap and cheer during that part of a service when a pastor or teacher tells us we’re called more than conquerors. The New Testament is not the theory of Christianity.
You may feel powerless right now, Sister, but, if you are in Christ, make no mistake: you are not. Get some backbone back in your prayer life if your spiritual spine has deteriorated. With reverence for His holiness and with the boldness He said we could bring to the Throne of Grace, read to God from His Word where He promised His people victory as they looked to Him alone…
…and where He promised to clothe us in power
…and where He said He’d make Himself conspicuous through our spiritual gifts and through supernatural works in His Name.
If you don’t know where those places are, go hunt them down. (But you could start in Romans 8, Luke 24, Acts 1, Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 12 and Hebrews 4.)
Tell Him you’re going to ask for it and ask for it and ask for it in His great Name and for His glory until He gives it to you and frees you from whatever this present powerlessness is. And then DO IT. Ask and ask and ask and tell Him you will do whatever it takes to cooperate and mean it! Throw your hands out to receive. And, then, when He gives it – and He will – don’t take credit for it. Appreciate it. Thank Him and thank Him for it. Know that it’s grace. Use it audaciously to bring Him attention.
Sister, you cannot fulfill your foreordained purpose without power. Go back after it but, whatever you do, don’t try to get it without Jesus coming with it. Power for power’s sake will blow you up. God-given unction isn’t meant to just come and go with periodic personal revival. We were meant to live powerful lives. Let’s get to them. If you’ve got an area of carnality that is quenching it, I promise you it’s not worth it. Believe me, I’ve been there. Repent, turn from it and get on with it. You’ve got a calling. And it takes divine power.
You mean so much to me. Hold tight to Jesus.
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