I am currently pecking out intentional words in a memoir and one of my life shaping sentences writes like this, “Charismatic expression, hellfire and brimstone are a mess of twisted sticks in my roots. I’ve sorted through that tangled mass of doctrine, and by an invisible and mysterious grace kept the truths they taught, and with some hard work and prayer sweat managed to dig out and discard the rest.”
I am burdened and pressed flat, rolled over and squeezed out as I write. I find myself praying for revival continually. Wrestling like Jacob. Hoping like Abraham for Holy Spirit fire, for God to renew His wonders in our day, for an Acts 4 experience where walls shake when sons and daughter’s gather to pray and an anointing power pours out that empowers us to live a bold and ragged-raw gospel. I find myself praying for the body to operate in all of the gifts of the Spirit so that we function at optimal health,
so that not one is lacking,
and I am a five point Calvinist.
Yet, I long for the God of experience.
I cry with Moses, “show me Your glory!”
I want to walk roads of dust with Jesus,
and see miracles, touch his robe and be healed,
see the enemy defeated where it seems he has trespassed on holy ground, and I can’t help but believe,
I believe there is a great divide that has left us fractured, as a global body of believers, in the magnitude of a 7.9 theological quake.
On one side we have charismatics with a fiery faith, believing in the God who responds while we are still praying (Daniel 9:23), and still grants words of prophesy that are meant to encourage and strengthen those who are disheartened, weary, feeble. Words that reach out and gently lift a downward head toward Christ and say, “March on, Saint, the battle is the Lord’s, take heart,
The lion of Judah has roared!
Have we forgotten that we belong to an ancestry of those who bent for hours in ragged prayer, interlaced with unknown tongues on floors in intercession for the perishing and persecuted? The ones who still believe in the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever and still heals real life threatening diseases, abnormalities, deformities?
I envy their freedom to believe, and yearn for such childlike faith that knows,
their daddy can fix anything.
I love my Sovereign God who does whatever He pleases (Daniel 4:35)
I believe in the hope of those who long to see Him renew His wonders in our day (Habakkuk 3:2).
I dance like David within the safety of my four walls free from judgmental staring and fear-filled stoicism.
I writhe on my floor in prayer and intercede in ways that leave me in awe of something beyond my humanness that believes God is responding to hearts He has already positioned to pray in faith, like this…
because He delights to answer and bends low to listen when we tell stories of answered prayer between miles and worlds,
riches and poverty,
loneliness and belonging,
sickness and health.
And in our lowly posture we grow ever more in intimate relationship with Him through aching knees and heavy hearts.
These words I pen stem from the fingers of a life that has shared in some of the sweetest of sufferings with Christ, and in my suffering hope rose,
out of gray dust and taught me to sing,
“whom have I in heaven but You, and besides, You I desire nothing on earth” (Psalm 73:25).
Still I pray the words of truth that have tattooed themselves on my frontal lobe in order that I will remember to pray them…”and God gave him rest on all sides… “(2 Samuel 7:1).
And I dare to believe in the God of Job,
I pray with longing for the day when all is restored, and the curse is broken. Yet there are caverns in my heart that echo, “I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:-13).
On the other side, could it be that we are indoctrinated to a fault so much so that we suffocate ourselves in the systemized study of theology and forget the supernatural God who revealed Himself through human hands that healed and gave Divine authenticity to the Jewish carpenter’s son through miracles and wonders?
This God who shook walls in prisons in response to praise, and cast out demons, and raised the dead, and healed the blind and the lame, and made well the sick.
We say our foundation is firm, but the one man has built upon below believers’ feet has quaked because its builders have labored on a theological fault-line that made us choose!
Is this a call to return to the God of the Bible? Could it be both sides are sick? Are we not a people who is to embrace the gospel as a whole so that we may be made whole?
To dance like David undignified with all his might? He may have looked like one who had gone mad wildly thrusting his body about. What would us stoic conservatists say if we witnessed a King do that today?
or even our own pastor?
What happened to having the Spirit of David shape our hearts so that we do not move unless we first inquire of the Lord with an expectancy that He will answer and go before us?
Are we paralyzed with fear that if the Spirit shows up in an unfamiliar way people will run? But if we so embrace the Sovereignty of God then what could we possibly fear about that? If we, reformers, believe nothing happens apart from His will, can we not embrace what might feel uncomfortable to us, trusting He does whatever He pleases on earth, turning men’s hearts any way He desires to?
If a man’s heart is turned to prophesy, are we not called to test the spirits and to keep that which is good, encouraging him in his gift? If one were to speak in an unknown tongue over us, would we tremble in awkward fear or wait expectantly for an interpretation from another?
If we say we have enough faith to believe in the sovereignty of God who raises up kings and tears them down and believes all suffering is for His glory and our good, can we not believe in the God who manifests the Spirit given to us as a pledge and a seal and with a power beyond reasoning? If we are truly filled with the power of God, why are we content to only see that which is humanly attainable?
and not dare to believe in the God who is able to do more than we can even ask or think?
Oh to believe like David who didn’t hesitate to listen for the Lord marching on the tops of balsam trees believing this Mighty God was on His way before him in order that he may slay an army and experience rest on all sides for a season. (2 Samuel 5:24).
And are we not a people to follow Paul’s example in shipwreck, in hunger, in poverty, in sleeplessness, in little, in prison, believing with a supernatural faith that the gospel is not imprisoned? And all this spins itself out in cracked jars so we see glory filled power housing itself in earthen vessels. Are we not the ones to share in the sufferings of Christ refined through molten fire?
Oh believer, God created us with a longing for more of Him. For some, that means to long for more theology that they are lacking,
so that they may know God!
For others it means to long for more experience so that they do not shrivel up and die of thirst and hunger despairing because they have not heard, felt, tasted and seen His goodness pulled down by gravity, reaching through the body,
trembling in His presence.
We are to thirst for the living God. If He is living, does that not mean that there is a divine energy within and around us that is meant to be experienced and known in Spirit manifestations that are meant to edify and offer hope?
The christian life is a complexity of blessing and suffering. Gain and sacrifice. Seasons of rest and seasons of an exhausting weariness. Calendars of sickness and health,
Are we not betrothed to a Holy God who does whatever He pleases yet cares for us as a loving, cherishing and protecting husband?
Within this holy union between believer and Heaven’s King there will be times of ease and rest and renewal and blessing after blessing,
and times we are called to walk a dark road of suffering trusting Him for strength for each step, even when all we can do is crawl to the cross. But the crawlers need the faith to believe that God is a God who heals and restores and meets needs and that Holy Spirit power will be poured out and fanned afresh if we consecrate ourselves to our living God and repent of our unbelief.
If our heart’s collectively cry with expectancy, “Show us Your Glory!” Resonating between the reformed and the charismatic, in humility gleaning from one another more riches of His glorious grace, may we then reach across the divide
extending an invitation
to dance with one another, swaying to a holy harmony,
healing under Christ’s triumphant crescendo,
so that we may run like gospel warriors together conquering in Holy Spirit power.
whatever that looks likes.
praying for revival, burning with Holy Spirit fire,