People of the Spirit, worshiping Jesus in all places, at all times

Archive for June, 2012

Men Whose Silence Speaks

Last month, I wrote about the women of valor in my own life and how necessary they are to who I am today. The Pentecostal movement has done much to honor and empower women to heal the places of brokenness and decay in our world through the power of the Spirit. But as much as it has been a prophetic voice for these women of the Spirit, it seems to me that, for too long, only certain kinds of men are held up as models in the Pentecostal world: men who can shout, jump, and raise their hands when preaching, praying, or prophesying. The only acceptable excuse for mellowing that pattern is old age. If that’s all it takes to be a man in the Pentecostal world, I’ll do alright…but if we leave it at that, we’ve neglected the legacy of men who love Jesus deeply and honor Him faithfully, and their awareness of the Spirit leaves them quiet, perhaps even silent.

There was a time in the Church that such men were held to be spiritual fathers. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, “He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even his very silence, that he may be complete, and may both act as he speaks, and be recognized by his silence.” Do not mistake silence for stupor. Don’t think that someone’s quiet presence in the worship of God’s people is a dispassionate inability to quake and shake for Jesus. There are men whose love for Jesus is so strong that softly singing is far louder than the shouts of their neighbors.

My Da and my Pap are a lot like that. They love Jesus. They know the Holy Spirit is at work in them. They take their roles as fathers, and imitators of the Heavenly Father very seriously. They serve where needed, not thinking too much of themselves, or pushing for authority to show how great they are for the sake of Jesus. They are faithful and constant, available to the people of God. They love Jesus, and their families. Their lives are not for themselves, but for the women that they married and the children that they’ve raised. When other men are trying to show their genuineness with passionate expressions (and I won’t question the authenticity of those expressions), my Da and Pap know that the Lord sees their hearts, and the offering that is in them. While I grew up as someone who saw genuine worship as something that needed to be done loudly with arms waving and feet moving, their persistent example has been a consistent, stable act of devotion: present, singing, meditating, and listening to God’s people sing and pray — being aware of God’s presence in the midst of His people.

I imagine there were times Jesus seemed a lot like that. In the chaos and noise of Passover, was Jesus the One in the crowd Who stood quietly aware of His Father’s presence? When Israel gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest at Pentecost, did Jesus offer His thanks quietly? Luke 4 suggests that Jesus wasn’t the loud guy in the synagogue. He hadn’t announced himself or made Himself stand apart in the worship. He served in reading the Scriptures when they asked Him to, and the quiet left them expectant and wondering “What’s He going to say?” The testimony to Jesus’ devotion wasn’t dancing in the streets or shouting the praises of the God of Israel. It was His constant devotion, faithful presence, and quiet praise. I thank God for men in the Church who continue in that tradition, men like my Da and Pap.

Da and Pap: Thank you for surrendering your lives constantly for the good of your family, like Jesus. Thank you for taking your call to be images of the Heavenly Father so seriously. Thank you for not being pressured by a noisy world around to create a worship facade, and instead worshiping in the Spirit. Your leadership in this way is so necessary to the Church and has been especially helpful to me the past few years. Keep following Jesus and imitating the Father in the power of the Spirit.

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The Church Is Not the People

Yup. You read that right. Let me write it one more time. The Church is not the people.

Now, before all the torches, stakes, and lions are let loose, let’s have a little talk about this. After all, one of the most important things to understand biblically, once you’ve got a biblical (orthodox) understanding of God, is the Church. Jesus died for the Church. God formed the Church to accomplish His mission. The Spirit indwells, sanctifies, and empowers the Church to fulfill God’s will. So what’s the Church? Most of us grew up to the prophetic call of respected Christians telling us “The Church is not a building.” They were right. Now it’s our time to recognize what God speaks into our own day: “The Church is not the people.”

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catholic Pentecostalism at its best

And for this reason the baptism of our regeneration proceeds through these three points: God the Father bestowing on us regeneration through His Son by the Holy Spirit. For as many as carry (in them) the Spirit of God are led to the Word, that is to the Son; and the Son brings them to the Father; and the Father causes them to possess incorruption. Without the Spirit it is not possible to behold the Word of God, nor without the Son can any draw near to the Father for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of the Son of God is through the Holy Spirit; and, according to the good pleasure of the Father, the Son ministers and dispenses the Spirit to whomsoever the Father wills and as He wills.

Irenaeus of Lyons, Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching, sec. 5.