I have been teaching through a series on Sunday about the Holy Spirit. I'm not sure where you stand on God, but we believe that when a person realizes that they can not do life alone, that they are messed up, and invites Jesus into their life, God himself takes residence in them in the form of the Holy Spirit.
It is one of the most profound things about following Jesus - that the God who created the entire universe would care enough about me to reside in me and speak to me, not as an impersonal force, but as someone who wants a relationship with me.
We have explored in our teaching series what this looks like, but there is one thing that sticks out to me in all of the stuff I am reading the learning. It is the importance of what we do when God speaks. God speaks. He is not out to hide himself from me. He wants me to get to know him and to hear from him. I have wondered sometimes why I don't seem to hear from God more often. There have been times I wondered why it seemed to happen occasionally and when it does, it rarely appeared to be significant.
One of the big reasons is that when God does speak, I have often reserved the right to ignore him. If I didn't like what he was saying about me. If I was afraid to so the things he was prompting me to do. If I wanted to retain control of a situation and not look foolish, I would make some excuse to not respond to God and would continue to live "safely". The problem is that God doesn't work that way.
When I say no, or when I ignore him, his voice gets fainter. I hear him less. He is patient to wait for me. He keeps on inviting me into that relationship with him, but it is always on his terms and not mine. He will not force himself on me, but he will not give me another assignment nor will I experience his presence if I turn down the thoughts and assignments that I don't want.
I am learning to lean in. To say yes regardless of what he asks. To take him at his word. To give up control. To trust him. Every time I do, he proves himself faithful. He has never steered me wrong because he is indeed, good. That doesn't always make it easier, but most of the time it does.
I want to hear him more. I want to make a difference. I want to know him more intimately. So I am resolved to learn in. To listen. To obey. To surrender. I look forward to seeing what will happen.
I recently finished a book that I highly recommend if you are looking for a thought-provoking and challenging read. The book is called The Three Passions of the Soul by Bruce Terpstra.
This book focuses on the driving force behind what we do. It talks about the three basic needs (passions) of our souls. They are the need for Acceptance, Significance or Security. These are hardwired into us and are a natural pursuit for each person. The author's contention is that if we search for any or all of these passions apart from Jesus, it will leave us frustrated and unfulfilled, susceptible to the vagaries of this life or of the next thing that comes in front of us.
The author does a great job in explaining how the love of God expressed to us actually leads to being able to live and embrace a fully accepted, fully significant and totally secure soul.
I think this book resonated with me because it is so easy to get caught up into seeking approval from others and feeling good about myself based on what they think (or worse, what I believe they think). It is easy for me to get stuck striving hard to succeed, to achieving and to finding my significance through these accomplishments. Or I descend into trying to control my life in order to bring the greatest level of security I can and worry when I cannot.
The book is theologically solid, but is not overwhelming and is interesting and an easy read. It keeps you engaged. I found the book particularly helpful when I stopped periodically to think and consider the implications of what I was reading.
If you are looking for a good read this summer, take a look!
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