Trusting God when it’s Hard to Trust

Tree by the water 2

Art by Josh Benton

The readings for my devotions this morning came from Psalm 20 and Jeremiah 17:7-8. I’ve been using A Guide for Prayer for all Who Walk with God as my devotional readings for the last few years now. It, for the most part, not only follows the church calendar, but it also sets up themes for each week. This week’s theme is trust. Psalm 20 is a powerful Psalm about calling for the king of Israel to trust in God and not in chariots or warriors. A Good thing to know. Not to trust in things, that is, but to trust in God alone.

It’s the passage from Jeremiah that was a bit harder for me to read through.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Blessed is hard to accept when it’s hard to trust in God. The word in Hebrew for blessed is בָּרַך (barak) and it has the idea of God giving this blessing. It is a blessing given by God to the one who trusts in Him. Not just that, but trusting in God creates a steadfastness that is every supplied by God’s sustaining power. The Hebrew for trust is בִּטְחָה (biteha). It has the idea of safety, confidence, and trusting. It’s a reliance upon someone else.

And in today’s world, reliance upon someone else is hard to do. We’re taught from an early age to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Society has a way of looking down on those who can’t or are unable to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. It’s a virtue (not always a good one, but still seen as a virtue) of the American way. We are individuals and we can make it if we try.

And so it’s hard to trust in others. It’s hard to be reliant upon others and find safety in doing so. But that’s the thing, in trusting in God, it is a trust that is reliant upon God, a safety found in God. And in that trust, in that reliance upon God, there is a promise of being sustained.

But trust is hard. It is hard to trust in God when you don’t always see Him moving or at work. Yes, there are those mountain top experiences that people have where everywhere they look they see God at work. But to be honest, those are few and far between. And when we don’t see God working like we think he can, we begin to lose trust in what He is doing and able to do.

This is where faith comes in. The Apostle Paul says it this way:

For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Simple to say, hard to do. But faith is being certain of what we hope for and sure of what we do not see (see Hebrews 11:1). This involves trust. This involves a reliance upon the unseen. In the mountains, it is easy to trust in God because you can see Him moving every which way you go. But we don’t always live on the mountains. We live on the plains and in the valleys. We live in the mundanity of life and in the broken hallelujahs of pain. This is where trusting in God is most needed. This is where reliance upon God is needed. This is where we need to be sustained like a tree planted by the waters.

And it can be hard to trust in God. But when it’s hard to trust in God, that is where it is needed the most. It is when we need to lean hardest on Him when we’re the most frightened to lean. It is easier to say than to do, that I agree upon. But still, when it’s hard to trust in God, that is where you need to trust in Him the most and allow Him to sustain you in those plains of mundanity and the valleys of broken hallelujahs.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Dog and the Holy Spirit

IMG_1267

A blurry picture of my dog, Strawberry. Photo by Josh Benton

We have a dog. She’s a 60lbs husky/Rottweiler mix. I emphasize the husky part because she looks more like a Rottweiler than she does a husky, but she has the temperament of a husky while having the build, fur, and coloring of a Rottweiler. It just puts people at ease when I say she’s part husky. She’s a kind dog. A gentle dog. A dog that enjoys being in our company. And there are times when I lay (or is it lie) on the couch where she comes up to me and puts her head on my chest and just wants to be petted. Sometimes she puts her nose up to my cheek just to get my attention.

Now, dogs can’t speak. They don’t have the vocal chords to do so. They don’t have the aptitude to form language like we do. Yet she communicates to me in so many different ways. She whimpers when we don’t let her into my wife and my bedroom at night. She’ll whine, lick your arm, and even bark to be let outside. And when she wants affection, she’ll lick my hand, she’ll put her head under my hand, or she’ll place her head on my chest when I’m on the couch.

She’s a dog. A good dog at that.

So what does this have to do with the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit sometimes feels like the forgotten God. He (and I emphasize He) is the third Person of the Trinity–Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. He (not it) proceeds from the Father and the Son. As the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given to us on the Day of Pentecost (check out Acts 2), the day wherein the Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers and led the people of God to move out with the gospel message to all corners of the known world.

Sometimes we confuse the Holy Spirit with a force or karma, or even The Force from Star Wars. But He isn’t like that. He is personal. He is intimate. He is powerful. He raised Jesus from the grave, and this same power resides in each follower of Jesus as the Holy Spirit lives in each follower of Jesus.

set free 3

Art by Josh Benton

But the Holy Spirit, He can’t be seen, only felt, only perceived. In John 3, Jesus uses the imagery of the wind. You can’t see the wind but you can feel it, you can see its effects on the trees and where it is blowing, but you can’t see the wind. The same is true with the Holy Spirit. Not just that, but the Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin, He teaches people what it means to be a follower of Jesus (see John 16).

The Holy Spirit is gentle, but you can grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves in each of us, but you can ignore the Holy Spirit. He guides us, but you can choose to not follow His leading. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for Jesus to live in the hearts of His followers and be a living temple to God, but you can choose not to do so.

So, what does this have to do with my dog?

Analogies can break down very easily. What I learned is that my dog is close by. She cares for me. She is present with me. She checks in on me. She desires to be close to me. She desires my attention. And she loves me unconditionally. The Holy Spirit is more than that though.

The Holy Spirit loves us completely because God loves us through Jesus. As the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit sends us. So the Holy Spirit cares for us. So the Holy Spirit guides us and leads us. When we don’t know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit prays for us in groans only God can understand. As a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit resides in us, uplifts us, and leads us.

The Holy Spirit moves where He wishes to move. God will not take His Holy Spirit from us who are followers of Jesus. In fact, the Holy Spirit is the gift that gives gifts. As followers of Jesus, we receive gifts of the Spirit to move the church. As followers of Jesus we receive the Fruit of the Spirit to show that we belong to Jesus.

My dog is finite. She’s roughly 9 years old. She will die one day. The Holy Spirit will never leave you nor die on you as a follower of Jesus. He will always be present with you as a follower of Jesus. Remember the Holy Spirit and what He can do with you. Allow Him to move and work in your life, being ever present with you. Listen to Him, follow Him, be guided by Him, and allow Him to work in your life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Power of the Kinetic Church

chapel

Photo by Josh Benton

About a year ago, I wrote on here on the Kinetic Church and the Movement of the Kinetic Church. There’s something about the church today that’s so important. Many people see the church to be outdated, regulated to the corner of morality for personal use. Not just that, but in the last 18 months, many people have denounced the Evangelical Church in the US due to it’s highly charged politicalness in things. This isn’t good. For many years, the Church had its standing within society. It was the center for many towns and villages. The entire town was built around the church. It was the center of society–political, cultural, and moral. And it was this way for many centuries. Until the Enlightenment era came (The Enlightenment Age started sometime in the 17th to 18th century and changed how we see things in the west. You can read more about it here). Long and short–it became the age of reason and logic. The church was no longer needed to run society.

And in some ways, this was a good thing. The Church itself had fallen short. It had started out in the book of Acts in the New Testament as a rag tag group of people who had witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And from that time on forward, the early followers of Jesus called The Way and later Christians, took time together, prayed together, helped one another out, and did so much to help the poor and the suffering.

Later, the church began to spread out from Jerusalem and made its way into the Balkans, into Greece, into all areas of society and even into the capital of Rome itself. But it was still on the fringe of society. People were persecuted, hunted down and killed for the faith. Paul, one of the greatest missionaries and theologians of the New Testament was hurt, stoned, shipwrecked, and more for speaking up about Jesus and planting churches.

Somewhere along the way, the Church lost its way. It became industrialized, institutionalized, a political behemoth to be reckoned with. And then things fell apart. The Reformation happened. Wars happened. And that’s where people got tired of the Church.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Church did many things good. The Church did many things right. Don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater here. Hospitals were created, the poor and the orphan and the widow were taken care of, people were helped when needed. The Church did much to do good in Jesus’ name.

Today things are much different than they were years ago. It’s a post Christendom world. It’s a post Enlightenment world. Globalization has happened. One author on the subject called it a McWorld. People from all over world can read my blog post. The Church is facing a crisis and it needs to respond.

This is where the church on mission, the missional church, comes in. Alan Hirsch, one of the creators of the term “missional” once said that after its coining, it means so little now. The missional church is a church on mission for God. God is about redeeming and restoring all creation.

Catawampus Spirituality ppt thumbnail

Art by Josh Benton

The kinetic church is a church on mission. But it is a church powered by the Holy Spirit. It is a church that has the power built up in it by centuries of work, centuries of history fueling it now.

The power of the kinetic church is having an Acts 2:42-44 identity, a Philippians 2 vision, and a Micah 6:8 mission. Let me break this down a bit.

In Acts after the day of Pentecost where the Holy Spirit was given to all believers, people came to faith in Jesus. The devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles about Jesus, the devoted themselves to prayer, they broke bread together (celebrated the Lord’s Supper/Communion/The Eucharist), and they helped one another out.

This is the identity of what the Kinetic Church should be about. But it shouldn’t stop there. The mark of the follower of Jesus is love, the love of God for others, the love of God for one’s neighbor, the love of God for one another. And this love is given when it is poured out as Jesus poured himself out. Paul writes about this in Philippians 2. Jesus humbled himself and became a servant to others when he could have easily taken over all things by force. The vision of the kinetic church is one where we pour out ourselves to help others, we are filled to be emptied. And when we operate church with this view, we no longer are to bicker and fight but to pour ourselves out to one another in love, in the love of Jesus.

But the church should also be on mission. This is where the power of the kinetic church comes into play. It is in play because of the power of the Gospel. It is in play because of the power of the Holy Spirit. It is moved by the Holy Spirit in order to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.

When the church acts justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God, it is on mission to do as God commanded. God is a God of justice. He desires the poor to be taken care of, the foreigner to be taken care of, the systems that hold people down to be fought against. Those who are downtrodden should be lifted up because they are made in the image of God. God is a God of love. He desires mercy not sacrifices (check out Hosea 6:6). God desires his people to do love mercy, to love their neighbor as themselves. And in so doing, the light of Jesus is shone. And all of this is walking humbly with God.

Phew this is a long post.

In short, the power of the kinetic church rests in the power of the Holy Spirit who moves the church. The church has power ready to be used. It has potential power. And when it is moved, it can do marvelous things in God’s name, in Jesus’ name, by the power given to it. But only if it truly has an identity rooted in Christ–living out the Acts 2:42-44 life, a vision of emptying out oneself for others, and a mission to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Singing Broken Hallelujahs

guitar black and white

Photo by Josh Benton

Leonard Cohen wrote the beautiful song “Hallelujah” that begins simply “Now I heard there was a secret chord/That David played and it pleased the Lord.” It’s a powerful sad song. It’s filled with imagery of hurt, of pain, of suffering. Sometimes Christians and others try to co-opt this song by making it happier. But it’s not. Some want a moratorium placed on this song so it won’t be sung for some time because it’s over done. But I don’t think so. Why? It’s a broken, sad hallelujah. In fact, in the song we hear

Baby I’ve been here before/I know this room, I’ve walked this floor/I used to live alone before I knew you/I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch/Love is not a victory march/It’s cold and a broken hallelujah.”

Hallelujah is from the Hebrew which literally means “Praise the LORD.” And not just Lord but the LORD. In the NIV and other translations, when you see LORD written like this, it means that God’s name is actually written in the Hebrew–YHWH. And God, the LORD is called upon in time of praise but also in times of lament. A lament is a crying out, a plea, a song of sadness to God.

The Psalms in the Bible are filled with laments to God.

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? how long will you hide your face from me?” Psalm 13:1

Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.” Psalm 88:1-2

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint” Psalm 61:1-2

These are songs, these are prayers, these are broken hallelujahs to God.

On the cross as he was in pain and agony, Jesus cried out broken hallelujahs. He cries out in a loud voice:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

This is a direct quote from Psalm 22, another lament, another broken hallelujah

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2

These are broken hallelujahs.

Too many times, people think that Christianity is all happy clappy being blessed (especially other Christians). But that is far from the truth. Yes, there are mountain top experiences. Yes, there are times where followers of Jesus feel especially close to God, to Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. But those are actually few and far between. In the middle of the mountains you have the mundanity of life. And other times you have the valleys of faith.

This is when singing broken hallelujahs comes in. When the valleys hit, when God feels distant, when things aren’t going the way they seem, when love feels cold, we sing broken hallelujahs. We sing them through tears in our eyes. We sing them with quivering lips and pounding hearts and broken souls. We sing these broken hallelujahs.

In the lament of Psalm 22 we read this:

But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” Psalm 22:19

In the lament of Psalm 13, it ends with this:

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise for he has been good to me.” Psalm 13: 5-6

It only takes the faith the size of a mustard seed to say that. But it’s still hard to say it when you’re in the middle of singing broken hallelujahs.

When you’re in the middle of singing broken hallelujahs, it’s okay to sing them. God has given us words to use even in these broken hallelujahs as found in the Psalms of lament. Be willing to sing broken hallelujahs. Be willing to sing them boldly, crying out to God, seeking the LORD’s face in your tears and pain and quivering lips. Sing your broken hallelujahs.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

My Little Pony and Sanctification

My daughter loves the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Since we have Netflix and not cable, she is desperately waiting for the latest season to come out on Netflix. Since it hasn’t she has been rewatching shows. Over and over and over again. So much so that I have some of them memorized (Rainbow Dash is still my favorite). There’s one particular episode she’s watched a couple of times that has a song (because each episode has a song) that speaks about not being flawless.

In essence, the main character, Princess Twilight Sparkle, publishes a book of her and her friends’ adventures and what they learned about themselves in each adventure. Simple enough. Yet it causes problems in Ponyville (where they live). And in response, they sing this song (because, hey, why not) with the chorus:

We’re not flawless/We’re a work in progress/We’ve got dents and we’ve got quirks/But it’s our flaws that make us work

After the third time of my daughter watching this episode, I started to think theologically about this song and the episode (yes, I tend to do that when I get inundated with My Little Pony and other things my kids watch ad nauseum–you should hear my theory on the movie Cars). The characters in Ponyville expected Twilight Sparkle and her friends (or the Mane Six as the wiki calls them) to be perfect. I mean, yes, Twilight Sparkle is a princess now. But still (okay, I’ve seen too many of these) c’mon, perfect? Nope.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, many times it feels like people expect me to be perfect. To be a perfect example of Jesus to others. Many times, I feel the pressure from my self to be a perfect example of Jesus. And I fail at it. Miserably. I once saw a bumper sticker that said “I like your Christ, I just don’t like you.” Ouch. Dude. Harsh. But I think the desire for Christian to better show who Jesus is is out there.

The thing is, is that there’s this thing called sanctification. It’s a big theological word that simply means “God’s not done working on my yet through the Holy Spirit.” In other words, God is at work with each follower of Jesus to make them more like Jesus in every way. And they won’t be like that until kingdom come (literally).

Think of it like road construction (Construction season seems to be in season all year round out here in the Midwest). When it is decided to work on a road (be it a city street or a freeway or something) there’s a reason why construction needs to be done (pot holes, old roads, etc.) and this construction begins with an overall plan on how things will look when it’s completed. This is just like sanctification. This is God working on His people through the power of the Holy Spirit to make them  more like Jesus. And it takes time.

King David of the Old Testament is an example of sanctification at work. He’s called a man after God’s own heart. The problem is, is that David messed up. Big time. He raped Bathsheba, and when she was found to be pregnant, David killed her husband and married her to cover up his crime. The prophet Nathan came to David and called him on the carpet for it. David tore his clothes (a sign of repentance) and agreed he did wrong and sought God’s forgiveness.

He then wrote a song about his sin and God’s forgiveness in Psalm 51.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

David was punished for what he did. But he repented. He knew he needed God to work on him to make him into who God wanted him to be like.

This is an extreme example of what sanctification is. No one is righteous enough, not one person, to be before God. Yet in Jesus, God works on us by His Holy Spirit to make us into who he wants us to be–like Jesus in every way.

Now, the Mane Six weren’t perfect. They had flaws. And they wanted Ponyville to know this. As a follower of Jesus, I’m not perfect. I mess us. And I’m going to continue to mess up. Like the Mane Six sing, I’m not flawless. I’m a work in progress. And I need to remember that.

Of course, it’s not an excuse to be a jerk. Instead it’s a call to live as much as I can to be like Jesus in every way. Where’s God working on your right now by His Holy Spirit?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weeding, Trimming, and Pruning

Japanese_White_Pine,_unknown-2007

From wikipedia.com

Recently, I’ve spent some time at a greenhouse. I spent time watching and participating in the weeding, trimming, and pruning of all different types of plants, shrubs, and flowers. I’ve learned much about the importance of weeding and trimming and pruning. It is for the health of the plant that it is trimmed and pruned. Dead pieces are pulled off, weeds which suck the nutrients from the soul and plot to destroy the plant and removed, and the plant itself is directed in the right direction in which it needs to grow.

This pruning and trimming and weeding got me to thinking about what Jesus says in John 15.

Jesus says:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

This verse always used to mean to me to stay close to God in Jesus or else. If you don’t stay close you’ll get cut off. But after watching and actively participating in weeding, trimming, and pruning, I’ve begun to have a new appreciation for these verses. It’s not mean to prune a branch from a plant that isn’t bearing fruit or flower. In fact, it helps it grow stronger, bigger, fuller. Pruning and trimming is an act of love towards the plant though it must be done in such a way that at first seems and looks like it harms the plant. In fact at times it seems counter intuitive.

For example, in pruning, sometimes you cut off new growth and pretty flowers. That doesn’t seem right. The plant is growing, why? Why cut these off. They look nice and it seems like it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. Ahhh, but there’s something important in cutting new growth and pretty flowers–sometimes they aren’t growing in the right direction. Sometimes they are growing in such a way that makes it bad for the plant.

bonsai-longevity-1024x768@2x

From bonsaigardener.net

I began to wonder more about weeding, trimming, and pruning. The weeding part make sense, lots of sense. The bad parts need to be removed. They are hurting the plant. But the trimming and pruning, why? I learned something from the clematis plant, the wild sunflower, and the bonsai tree.

The wild sunflower doesn’t need pruning nor trimming. In fact, some consider the wild sunflower to be a weed. Yet when it grows, it grows big and strong and great. It’s beauty shines when it is with a whole patch of wild sunflowers. At the same time, it needs no pruning nor trimming. It just is. And it exists.

But the clematis plant (a vine plant with pretty flowers) and the bonsai tree are different. They need constant care. Unlike the wild sunflower, these two plants are planted with care and intentionality. The plant is placed where it is at with intention, attention, and a desire for existence. The clematis can be a wiry annoyance. I’ve learned this in trying to prune and trim the blasted thing. Yet it also needs support, it needs a trellis and direction. I learned that I have a variation of clematis in my backyard. For the last four years it has annoyed me. It hasn’t stayed on the trellis, it winds its way through the back yard. I now know I need to trim it, care for it, prune it, direct it. When spring eventually comes (it’s mid April and on Sunday we had an ice storm), it will need direction to grow properly and healthily.

The same is true with bonsai trees. They need constant pruning and trimming. But more than that, there is something important about focused trimming and pruning of the bonsai tree. According to Bonsai Tree Gardener (.net), a properly kept, trimmed, and pruned tree will keep it’s shape for decades. One of the oldest bonsai trees is said to be over 500 years old. But it takes patience, time, energy, and loving care to keep the bonsai tree where it needs to be.

Going back to John 15, I began to see the importance of the other words Jesus tells His disciples:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:5, 8

God weeds, trims, and prunes in order for those who belong to Jesus to bear fruit. What is this fruit? The fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). The biggest of these that Jesus is talking about is love. When we bear the fruit of love, we show that we are His disciples. More than that, when we remain in Him, we grow. We grow in the way and direction in which he desires us to.

It’s hard to grow. It’s hard to allow God to shape us and prune us. And for some there is more trimming, shaping, and pruning than others. Just as the clematis is different from the wild sunflower and the sunflower different from the bonsai tree, so each person who remains in Jesus is different.

Where might you be right now in the trimming and pruning process? Allow God to be at work in you. But also remain in Jesus, live with Him daily. Allow God to prune you, weed you, trim you into who He intends you to be. He is doing so out of loving care, focusing on you each moment as He desires you to focus on Him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Filled to be Emptied

Mason_Jar_and_Water-2-1024x680 taylourwhite dot com

From taylourwhite.com

So it’s now it’s halfway through the fourth month of the New Year. How’re your New Year’s resolutions coming along? Back at the beginning of January, I wrote about having an impoverished New Year. It’s a year where we empty ourselves for others out as Jesus emptied Himself out for us. Jesus, being the very nature of God, didn’t see this as something to be used for his own advantage. Instead, He emptied Himself into the form of humanity out of great love and took on the role of a servant, obedient even to death (Philippians 2:5-11). Have you tried doing this?

Have you tried emptying yourself for others?

There’s only one way that we are able to do this: By being filled with the Holy Spirit.

A mantra (if you’ll let me use this wording here) of mine over the last number of months has been simply “Holy Spirit fill me, Jesus Christ empty me.”

Simple yet at the same time deep and perplexing.

How can one be filled to be emptied? How can one be filled in such a way to want to empty oneself into others by Jesus Christ? It’s tough to be honest. It’s tough to allow yourself to be emptied out in the name of the love of Jesus Christ. It’s tough to allow yourself to be used by God through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to empty yourself, to impoverish yourself, for others. Even others who may not even want it, or for others who don’t think they need it, or for others who think you’re just bat guano crazy for even thinking of doing it.

Yet you do it. And the only way to do so is by being empowered by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit. For those of us in Christ Jesus, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s hard to explain. I’ve posted about the Holy Spirit before. The Holy Spirit isn’t just some cosmic force that binds everything together. The Holy Spirit empowers us. The Holy Spirit leads us forward, guides us, directs us, moves us, dwells within us. For those of us in Jesus Christ, we are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called He in the Bible. Why? Because He is fully God just as Jesus is fully God and the Father is fully God. It’s complicated to explain in a short blog post. I mean, people have gone into volumes of books just to explain it. Yet in all it’s complexity, what is simply the truth is that God the Son, Jesus Christ, dwells in the hearts of believers by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those who confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts that Jesus is Lord have the Holy Spirit living in them. God with us. Amazing.

Now think of this–that mantra I’ve been using is a prayer as well. It’s a prayer that God Himself fills me with His power, fills me with His Spirit, fills me in such a way that I am empowered to be used by God, moved by God, to be emptied out and impoverished like Jesus was. This was my New Year’s resolution–to be filled in order to be emptied. To be impoverished because I’ve been emptied out for others.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve done it perfectly. To be honest, I’ve dropped the ball. I haven’t followed through. I haven’t always spoken the right words I needed to when prompted by the Holy Spirit (something else He does too). I’ve fallen short. But I’ve tried. I’ve tried to be Christ in my living situation. I’ve tried to be Christ when I don’t always want to be. I’ve prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to give of myself out of love in order to be moved to be emptied out of love, emptied into others.

It’s something difficult to be emptied into others. It requires vulnerability, it requires patience, it gets messy when we empty ourselves into others. But when we do, the Holy Spirit moves in us, fills us even more in order to be emptied even more.

How can you be filled in order to be emptied? How can you allow yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to be emptied in love as Jesus was in order to serve others in love? Be filled to be emptied.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment