Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wesleyans Can Dance!!!

Two ladies, both over 70 years of age I guess, came into our midweek morning Bible study yesterday so excited that they could hardly contain themselves. They had danced with the Holy Spirit and He had worked through them to communicate God’s love and grace.

In both cases these ladies had sensed a strong internal prompting to ask the person they were talking to if they had any special needs that they would appreciate prayer for. These ladies were so very nervous but the internal Spirit compulsion was so strong that they overcame their fears and popped the question.

One of the ladies was told that there had just been a death (in an auto accident) in the family and the other was told about a recent house purchase and the fear of being able to make the payments for it. The Holy Spirit had led both these ladies to spiritually receptive people in which the moment was right to turn an ordinary conversation into a spiritual conversation. He had transformed an ordinary moment into a missional moment.

These ladies had been praying for God to help them to become a missionary and He answered their prayers. I explained to these ladies that praying this kind of prayer is like buying a new car. Before you buy the car you seldom notice that model car on the road. But after you make the purchase you see them everywhere you go. Before we pray to be used as a missionary we never notice people that we can strike up conversations with. After we pray we will see them everywhere.

During our evening midweek Bible study a gentleman in the congregation also told us that he had begun to look for opportunities to ask coworkers during breaks at work if they had needs that he could pray for. The Holy Spirit wants to dance with the people of NGWC and some of these Wesleyans have decided to give it a try. And they are having the time of their lives.

I wonder who will start dancing next? Will it be you?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Dance with the Holy Spirit

The church in the book of Acts, under the anointing, direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, went out into the streets of Jerusalem and then down the roads to Judea and Samaria, and eventually to the ends of the earth. As the Holy Spirit moved, they moved with Him.

If Christians today are going to once again become missionaries, then we too must move with the Holy Spirit. Let me ask: are you moving with the Holy Spirit? Are you listening to His voice? Are you following His promptings?

I once had a class in seminary called “Creative Movement” where they tried to teach me to square dance along with some other dances that I don’t remember. If we are going to move with the Holy Spirit then we will need to learn how to dance with Him.

Since I am both a Wesleyan and don’t have much rhythm in my bones I never really learned to dance. So I decided to find some pointers and tips to being a good dance partner. This is what I found.

Men: Lead without pushing, pulling or forcing the follower.
If your partner misses a step or move do your best to cover for them.
(These two tips sound just like how I know the Holy Spirit to operate in my life. You could say that He is a gentleman. He will nudge but never force me to move or act. And He is always protecting and covering me.)

Ladies: Practice with your partner so you can better anticipate his steps and moves.
Develop following skills so leaders don’t have to work so hard to get you to respond.
(These tips are definitely how we should be responding to the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit in our lives.)

The real key to dancing with the Holy Spirit is to be a person of prayer because this is how we connect and commune with Him. These words from Acts 1:14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer” were true for the early church and should be true for us as well.

So I ask again, will you dance with the Holy Spirit this week?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Let's Dance with the Holy Spirit

Last week I challenged the people of NGWC to become missionaries, each and every one of them. This challenge was based in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 – “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. … And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

This week I told them that they were incapable of becoming missionaries on their own; that they needed an empowerment beyond themselves. This assertion is based on Jesus’ words recorded in Acts 1:8 - “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus understood that His disciples would need help (power) beyond themselves to do the work that He was leaving to be done. This power source was the same one that He had while He served as a missionary on earth.

At Jesus’ baptism the heavens were torn open and the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove.
He was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
Jesus then returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.
The first recorded time that Jesus spoke in the synagogue He quoted scripture and said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me …”

Before His crucifixion Jesus went to great length to explain to the disciples the promise of the Holy Spirit and His work in their lives and in the world (John 14-16). In Acts 1, before His return to heaven He restates the promise once more.

A careful read through the Acts of the Apostles (some would say of the Holy Spirit) reveals how the church was moved by God’s Spirit time and time again.

The church under the anointing, direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit went out into the streets of Jerusalem and then down the roads to Judea and Samaria, and eventually to the ends of the earth. As the Holy Spirit moved, they moved with Him.

Perhaps it was because of his experience of seeing how the Spirit worked in and through the church that he was prompted to write in Revelation 22:17 - "The Spirit and the bride say come!"

When the individual members of the bride of Christ are all (collectively) saying the same thing it speaks more loudly to the world and they are more apt to hear the message. But the Spirit must also be at work in our hearts and lives as well as those of the people we are communicating with.

So, if we are going to be missionaries then we must move with the Holy Spirit. Someone has referred to this moving with the Holy Spirit as a dance.

Question: are you dancing with the Holy Spirit? Are you listening to His voice? Are you following His promptings?

I may get in trouble as a Wesleyan pastor – but I challenge you to dance this week – dance with the Holy Spirit.

Later this week I will be sharing some tips on being a good dance partner.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Every Member - A Missionary

(This is a redo of the post I made last Sunday night that got deleted. Long story - don't ask. Just read, if you didn't see the first one.)

Last Sunday I began a series of messages called: Every Member – A Missionary. Everyone is born with the desire to live a life of significance and meaning. As Christians we believe that we can find this significance and meaning only in and through God. This restless pursuit for worth and value is filled when we find true rest in God and our reason for being through Him. Many, no doubt, have found it and Acts 13:36 names one of them, “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep;”

So what is God’s purpose for us? Let’s find out what He is up to and join with Him in His work. A careful reading of Scripture reveals that God was and is on a mission of reconciliation and redemption. Some of the key scriptures are: Genesis 12:2-3; Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 43:10; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Galatians 3:6-9; and 1 Peter 2:9.

Once we have received this message of reconciliation ourselves, then our purpose (which will give us significance and worth) is to be messengers (missionaries) of reconciliation to the rest of the world. What does it mean to become a missionary?

Becoming a missionary is something I am more than something I do. But because of who I am, there are certain things I will or will not do.

Becoming a missionary gives me the opportunity to partner with God in His mission of bringing salvation to all mankind and restoring His kingdom on earth.

Becoming a missionary means that I am learning how to transform my daily interactions with others into opportunities to plant gospel seeds into their lives.

Becoming a missionary is a way of life. It can’t be reduced to special events organized by the church or overseas “missions” work.

Last Sunday I challenged the congregation to take the first step to becoming a missionary: submit to be a servant of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In taking this first step they were asked to commit to:

1) Pray that God will gives you eyes to see others as He sees them by going to a mall, fast food restaurant, or park and pray, “Lord, help me to see what you see.” Then listen for the voice of God.

2) Begin to work at creating opportunities to engage others in spiritual conversations by asking them if you may pray for them and for specific ways to pray for them.

Are you ready to make this first step toward missionary service?