I haven’t lived long, but I’m starting to notice that whenever I have a subject on my mind, it starts appearing in everyday life with great regularity and in ways I never would have thought of or paid attention to before. That’s a long sentence that might not make sense, but let me say it this way: When you’re thinking about eating McDonalds, everything you see that is red, yellow, arched, food-related or even smells relatively good, will probably make you think about McDonalds. Whenever a thought is prevalent in my mind, I typically write a summary phrase about it on the bottom of every page in my journal. For the past month or so, I’ve been writing “Use Me.”
I’ve been thinking about the Holy Spirit.
Naturally, either because of these thoughts or because of the principle I just described, I’ve now read Forgotten God by Franis Chan, The Holy Spirit by Charles Ryrie and I’m doing my devotions in the early chapters in Acts. Also, playing with RiSE and constantly interacting with campers and sponsors and leaders and trying to have an impact on each of them through musical worship and just normal lifestyle worship has me constantly thinking, “Am I accomplishing anything? What am I doing that matters? Am I doing anything that, from an outsiders perspective, HAS to be divine intervention or am I relying on my own abilities rather than the Spirit?”
Both Crazy Love and Forgotten God really got these questions stirring in my mind. To be honest, I’m not a huge Chan fan, but he obviously has great insight and started a train of thoughts that has been really helpful. He talks about how anyone can make a church. All you need is a charismatic, interesting speaker, nice people and a music guy that will keep people entertained and it would not be that difficult to get a crowd hanging out in a building on Sunday mornings (and I thought, or Saturday nights. Let’s be relevant). He’s probably right! So what makes the bride of Christ, the true church, different? There are many answers, but perhaps the most important one is the presence of the Holy Spirit. People’s lives are being conformed to the image of Christ, souls are being saved, musical worship is authentic and heartfelt, and there is the distinctly Christian virtue of Love being passed around liberally (relax.. that’s not an exhaustive list of what goes on in church).
Ok, so that’s a Spirit-filled church. But I’m just a college guy going around and playing music at Snow Camps and wondering if people are liking the music, growing in Christ or even care about having a relationship with Him. The fact is, just like a church, it wouldn’t be difficult to put a band together that could get some gigs on the weekend. Even if the band was filled with nice people that played Christian music, what would make it distinctly powerful or God-honoring? It’s not hard to fake being “moved,” especially when good music is being performed and the lights are dimmed. Myself and other decently talented musicians can play the right chords, get the right feel, and pull off a great set without the Holy Spirit being involved at all! Now let me acknowledge some things… I am aware that our every breath is the product of God’s sustaining power, and that nothing could be done without Him. I also know that we are not saved by our own ability or by anything we do. My point is that God has given to both saved and unsaved people various abilities that are sufficient to achieve earthly goals. Illustration: I have a very close friend who would tell you of how he played (VERY well, mind you) in his worship band at church before he was saved. He faked his way through the right motions, but his only motivation was that he liked playing guitar and people liked it when he did! There was no true spiritual drive and there was no Holy Spirit empowering! Why was there no obvious difference?
In Acts, once the Spirit comes at Pentecost there is obvious divine intervention. Not only are miracles being done “through the apostles” (2:43. notice the emphasis. Through. Not by), but daily “the Lord added to their number” (2:47. Again, they are not doing the adding! God is). The people of that day were not amazed with the Apostles, they were amazed by their God! When marvelous works were done, and lives were changed and eyes were opened the praise, awe and wonder went directly to the source: God moving through men.
I ran all this by Mr. Boykin (my “dorm dad” and the Associate Dean of Students here at BBC). He gave me loving advice, and helped me most with a devotional he gave. He received a gift on his 50th birthday from his wife that was a decorative, fancy box with letters inside written by people whose lives were impacted by Ted Boykin. With quiet humility he read a selected letter of a particularly extreme case in which he had been of assistance, and the letter closed with statements like, “I would not be who I am today without, Boykin.” and “You changed my life. You were used by God.” Mr. Boykin then delicately described how he had no lofty plans, no careful planning and no elegant scheme to change this man’s life. He hadn’t felt, actually, that he was prepared at all to assist in some of the situations, but God had used him anyway. By loving when God called him to love and giving of himself as much as possible as often as possible, a life was redirected from destruction.
This broke my heart. Will that ever be said of me? I have been forgiven much, but do I love much? (Luke 7:47). Mr. Boykin is just one example of hundreds of people that have loved much, then been used by God to change a life (mine). Life change is supernatural. Life change is only of God. Life change is the work of the Holy Spirit, never man. No matter how cool I dress, how well I sing, how funny I am, how well-liked I am as I lead worship or how eloquently I speak I will NEVER change a life without the Holy Spirit.
That’s the obvious difference.
What about my life SCREAMS of the work of God in my heart? The 3rd person of the Godhead resides in me. My daily living is empowered by the One True God…. can anyone tell?
Lord Jesus! My Father! Holy Spirit! Do a mighty work through me. I pray that my walk, talk, eat, work, sleep and practice would be saturated with your involvement. May I be so humbly submitted so your power, Spirit, that no one even considers giving me glory for what goes on… I pray that it wouldn’t even be logical to do so! You alone can achieve anything eternal. You alone can change hearts. You Alone! Today, and for the rest of my life, I want my life to say the same thing, and that people would look at me and obviously declare: THE LORD is using him to perform many wonders. Praise GOD ALONE!