I do not come with eloquence or human wisdom.
This last season has been especially trying for me, very emotional and draining to be honest with you, yet I feel more blessed and awed at the power of God than I perhaps ever have. I see the Lord doing incredible things in the lives of people in our church and even for those who have never even been in these doors, yet have found us on line thru the website, my blog, Facebook, my books— and I feel a little overwhelmed; “Lord, how can I handle this? How can I maintain this? How can I keep bringing it?” Those are the questions that bombard me when I let my guard down and I have to remind myself of this simple truth; I can’t.
Not in my own strength I can’t, not by my own wisdom I can’t, not by myself I can’t. But why am I even in this place, this place of exhausted awe, intermixed with a driving passion to keep going? How am I able to touch lives in ways that bring healing, that brings out things into the daylight that have been hidden away for so long that they have festered into a poison, tainting the very heart of a person, brings them out so that they can be cured. How are we, this little rag tag army in small town Montana able to thwart the plans of the enemy and set hearts and spirits free?
It’s Jesus, it’s all Jesus. One incredible season after another, this last one—I don’t know how to minister to victims of sexual abuse—no clue, yet in the last few weeks we have made tremendous strides in healing long hidden wounds. I have people who have been going to counselors for years, people who are writing books on this topic, telling me that they have been totally transformed and that even the way they look at the healing process has changed, and I say; “Lord, how is this possible?”
How is it possible that I, with no formal education in this, can possibly know what to say? How can I teach these people anything worth their effort to be here? How can I, a simple carpenter by trade, tackle such daunting issues? The gravity of it all can be overwhelming when I think about how much damage I could do if I did it wrong.
My flesh asks the questions but my spirit knows the answers, it’s because the cross is my PHD. In fact, most of the time I don’t even think it’s my words, it is the power behind the words, only the power of the Holy Spirit can touch and heal hearts, only Jesus can set people free, he just needs us to show up and let him move through us. I am just a messenger for another carpenter by trade— the Nazarene.
When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor 2:1,2
And I take great comfort in knowing that I am just one of the vessels of his love in our church. He moves through the preaching of his word but he also moves through the worship, through the way we welcome the stranger and continue to love one another, being honest and open about our problems and our struggles. He moves through us visiting, encouraging and praying for one another.
When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 1 Cor 14:26
Last week after service Cindy grabbed me—a lot of people were still here visiting as they always do long after service is done— and said; “Shelly would like us to pray for her because she is leaving for India this week to minister to the girls in the brothels of Mumbai”—“Oh, is that all?” —wow.
So, Cindy and I laid hands on her and started praying and soon I realized that it had gotten quiet in the room. I looked up and everyone who was still here, about 15 people, had gathered around, had their hands extended and were also praying.
I actually had to do a little refereeing to make sure everyone got a chance because so many people wanted to pray and give her words of encouragement. Now that’s a church that wants the Holy Spirit to show up, that’s a church that loves one another—that’s a functional family.
We don’t have to be experts, we don’t have to be professionals, and that’s my point. If we are all doing our part, being the church and not just going to church then we don’t need to depend on the experts, we are not burning out leaders by demanding that they fix us.
We must keep Jesus front and center and lean not on our own understanding—As the pastor I must understand, and remember, that all my wisdom comes from Jesus.
I don’t have to be an expert, I don’t have to be a polished professional speaker, I don’t have to spend my nights reading the latest phycology and theological treatises and methods, our worship team doesn’t have to have flashing lights, lasers and smoke machines, we don’t need trained and specially appointed prayer personnel hovering around on the fringes, but what we do have to have, what we absolutely need is Jesus, I, you, we, have to lean on Jesus.
And if it stops working, if lives are no longer being transformed, then I know it’s because it is being done in our own strength. If I preach the most eloquent sermon or people are delightfully entertained but go home unchanged—then it’s time to once again to remind myself that I know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified— because I don’t.