My name is Jeff and I'm a pastor of a small, local, Christian fellowship

It's a wonderful thing to love your work; to know that when you do it you are doing something that you were born to do. I am so fortunate to be both. I don't say I am the best at what I do. God knows that are so many others who do it better. But I do feel fairly lucky to be called by such a good God to do work I can only do with his help, to be loved by a beautiful woman, and to have a workshop where I can work my craft. These musings of mine are part of that work.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Afterdim

I consider myself a Pentecostal in that I have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit and, among other things, I have been graced with spiritual language.

I pastor what some would call a Pentecostal fellowship in that many of its members have had the same experience.

And yet, when I pray for someone to receive the filling of the Holy Spirit, nothing “happens.” No shaking. No rolling. No laughter. No “joy unspeakable and full of glory”. Not so much of a “she-came-in-a-Honda/see-my-bow-tie-tie-my-bow-tie.” Usually when I pray for people in this way, judging by appearances I’d say it was (almost) a non-event.

So what is it with me?

Tonight was a good case in point. I’ve been sharing from Mark 1 lately with the students from The Focus, our Wednesday night youth church. Our text tonight was Mark 1:9-11 which reads,

“At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God's Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: ‘You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.’”

All the gospel writers put this event at the beginning of their story. In Mark’s case, it’s in the opening lines. Before the miracles, before the healings, before Lazarus shuffles out from the tomb, before all the amazing things that make up the stories of Jesus’ life, he is baptized in water and in the Spirit. If he, though fully God, as a man required Spirit baptism, what keeps the rest of us from submitting to the same? If to be a Christian is to walk as Jesus did and do what Jesus does, it is impossible without the Holy Spirit coming upon us. This was my message in abbreviated form.

After sharing, we tied in to our internet feed with the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, encouraged the kids to find a separate place in the sanctuary, dimmed the lights and asked them to turn to the One who longs to fill them afresh. After about twenty minutes or so, I made an invitation to any and all who were longing to be filled for the first time or in need of experiencing a fresh infilling, to come forward. Perhaps a quarter of those present did (and four of them were my own kids). I asked one of the youth leaders to join me and one by one we prayed over the perhaps 8 kids who were sitting in the provided chairs.

I sincerely was hoping that there would be some demonstration of the Spirit’s presence. Tongues. Tears. Joy. Laughter. Anything that would suggest that the Holy Spirit had come upon them but with the exception of one, it was the drill I have grown accustomed to in my ministry, which is to say nothing meeting the eye.

My theology prevents me from going home discouraged. After all, we seek Him not a feeling. And just because nothing seems to be going on doesn’t mean that nothing is going on. But every once in a while my faith needs a little bolstering. I mean, after all those first Christians prayed that God would stretch out his hand and show his stuff and the house they were in shook and they left boldly going where before they had been afraid to go.

I don’t think that’s asking too much. I don’t think I’m tasking the Lord when I ask him to show up if only to awaken the kids who didn’t seem so moved to sit in one of the chairs and in one case are fast asleep.

Maybe it’s me?