The Great Divorce

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“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

-Matthew 28:19

 

I grew up believing in the cessationist viewpoint, that the Holy Spirit and His giftings happened long ago, and have “ceased” in today’s society. Not that we called ourselves cessationists, but like many religious spirit-filled churches, that belief went without saying.

You never would’ve caught us commanding out evil spirits, declaring that someone is healed in Jesus’ name, speaking in tongues, or giving prophetic words. All these things were, as I was taught, “of the devil.” And again, this wasn’t openly said, but there was a kind of fear behind such power, a fear likened to that of the Pharisees when they felt their beliefs questioned by the acts of Jesus.

Even they started attributing acts of God to that of satan, falling prey to the great sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit as stated in Matthew 12:31. Surely, we don’t want to sin against the very one that Jesus sent to us with the words, “I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. If I do not go, the Helper will not come to you…” (John 16:7)

Jesus later explains that through His return to heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit, we would be able to do even greater things than He did on the earth! (John 14:12-14) Must we be reminded of what Jesus has done? Even that which has been recorded is not the whole account as John states:

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:35).

And so, why has the church underwent this “Great Divorce” between the Holy Spirit and the Word of God?

From my own perspective, the church I grew up in was young and inexperienced. It had a mere mustard seed of faith that revolved around that which can be seen and understood with the mind. We didn’t see miracles and so they must not exist, at least, not in the capacity that they did in Biblical times. I mean surely if such healings and works of God happened today we would’ve heard about them, right?

Some of the greatest discoveries on my walk with God have occurred when I was actively searching for more. When I became open-minded about God’s abilities, not limiting Him based on what I had seen or hadn’t seen. And when I sought the truth for myself, instead of just believing what was popular at the time, that is when I began to see miracles.

Let’s face it, this world is largely governed by satan and his forces, this is his kingdom and so it shouldn’t surprise us that miracles aren’t on the daily news or made famous through other media sources. What kingdom would allow others to be swayed toward another? Most miracles are largely unseen and even unbelieved when they are widely witnessed or recorded simply because of satan’s influence!

Miracles are also, in my belief, even less common in America and other largely secular, mind-numbed cultures. We are distracted most of the time, difficult to please, and either too busy or too caught up in self to really desire such things.

Generally, when something does happen that requires a miracle, we first seek man’s wisdom and in this technological society, we easily place our faith and hope in the medical sciences to bring about the miracles we so desperately want.

Meanwhile, in third world countries, such technology isn’t readily available. Death is a very real and unavoidable foe, as well as fear of war, poverty, disease, and even evil spirits, which inhabit America as well but thrive in our obscurity.

The veil of darkness is very real in those countries. You won’t find many, if any at all, who are atheists or unbelieving in anything spiritual because they’re literally surrounded by spiritual warfare and unshrouded acts of satan. He isn’t shy, and he isn’t humble. In fact, satan is quite the show-off to those who really want a demonstration of his “power.” Which largely consists of illusion or deception. He masquerades in fear and to a believing culture that has never seen the power of Jesus, that is all it takes to create a reverent following. That is the birthplace of black magic, witch doctors, full-bodied possessions and even miraculous acts such as levitation or spiritual revelations that are not of God.

Can God really expect us to combat such atrocities without the Holy Spirit’s power? How else will we reach these people who are accustomed to the works of demons? Won’t we have to show them, not just tell them, but actually demonstrate our God’s power, authority, and love?

Jesus is our primary example of how we are to live, teach, serve, love, and save the lost. He didn’t just recite scriptures or follow religious rituals like the Pharisees. He showed us a new way, a new covenant that would replace the old “works” based one in which we had to strive and claw toward salvation but never really achieve it on our own. Jesus is the only way, He is the bridge between us and God. And the Holy Spirit is Jesus in us!

How can we profess to know Christ and carry Him in our hearts without mirroring Him and His heart toward the Holy Spirit and giftings?

Do you really carry the heart of Jesus if you teach people about God but do not live it? If you do not then proceed to love others through demonstration? Healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons…do you or do you not believe that this is the Will of God?

Jesus unscrolled the scriptures of Isaiah 61 and read aloud:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:18-21)

The great commission has been passed on to us, we are to carry out what Jesus started on the earth, just as the forefathers of our faith, the disciples who began the church and gave up their lives for the Truth. How do our passions and works compare? What would they think and say if they saw today’s church with its empty rituals, it’s false, “non-offensive” teaching of Jesus who is more comparable to a hippie than to the man who was so zealous that he turned over the money changer’s tables, chasing them out of God’s holy temple with a whip.

There is much more that can be said, so much more…however, for the sake of unification, I will end with this.

Both cessationists and charismatics are still brothers and sisters in Christ who ultimately desire the same thing…and that is the salvation of the lost and the coming of Jesus. We agree on the most important matter of all; that Jesus was crucified, rose and that He is the road to salvation.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what denomination you are so long as you realized that we are all in this together, that our common ground is what unites us and ultimately leads others to Christ.

If satan is divided against himself how can he stand? (Matthew 12:26), how then can we stand if we are divided? It is time we realize our common goals and our sole purpose. No one is perfect and no one’s theology is spot on in every respect, I believe that we are all constantly learning and growing, or at least we should be open to such. Even the charismatic who completely believes in the works of the Holy Spirit and implements them in his daily life can get it wrong.

Charles V. Bryant described it best in his novel Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts:

“Many persons tarnish the idea and practice of the gifts of speaking in tongues, divine healing, prophecy, and discernment with extreme and bizarre claims and behavior. Because of them, others discount the authenticity and value of the gifts. So, two opinions emerge: that of pneumaphobics, persons who are afraid to have anything to do with the Holy Spirit; and that of pneumanics, those who worship the experience or the gifts and not the Giver. Both hurl unloving accusations at each other, rarely understand each other, and confuse the silent majority between them. One wonders which sin is greater–gift pride, looking down on others with different gifts, or gift denial, not believing in gifts at all.”

Which do you believe is the greater sin? I believe the greater sin lies in what differing views ultimately does to the church which should stand as a united symbol of the bride of Christ. And that symbol should always be….love.

If you love well, you will serve well. If you place others before yourself, you will discover the best way to serve them, and if you pursue God with all your heart, mind, will, and emotions…all else that you desire will be added unto you.

Even the great divorce can be reconciled and I believe that it is! We are seeing a new revival, an awakening of the church, a return to Biblcal zeal, the book of Acts. No matter where you stand on the issue of spiritual gifts and miracles, it is no lie that we all desire to see such things today. Why not pray for them? Why not actively seek them out? Listen to testimonies and immerse yourself in every move of God in your town, city, or state. Discover for yourself whether you are living out the most God has for you and your destiny!

You will not be punished for searching, and so what have you to lose?

 

Broken Vessels

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“The only way to keep a broken vessel full is to keep it always under the tap.”

-Billy Sunday

Last weekend, as I seated in the pew with my small cup of juice and bread for communion, I noticed a long crack down the side of my cup. To my surprise, the cup never once leaked, even as I pressed against the crack and saw it move ever so slightly inward.

A thought came to mind as I watched this, and that is we are all very much like this cup. Though broken, through God’s redemptive grace and love we are made whole again. We may be weak in the eyes of the world, but through His power, we won’t let a single drop of His Truth drip to the ground. No, we will be filled and in fact, must always be “being” filled so that we can pour out onto others.

How many times has your cup broken? I honestly believe that even those whose cup has shattered seemingly beyond repair can be mended. God only needs to remake you, like the potter in Jeremiah 18.

God even goes on to say, “can I not remake you as the potter does?” (18:5)

Strange as it may seem, I love this broken vessel of mine…in those cracks, I see God’s amazing power to bring beauty out of ashes, to restore and rebuild relationships, to bind and mend and wipe my tears away. I see His love and can fully appreciate it, without taking it for granted, as I had when life was easy.

We really don’t know what we have until it’s gone. Not that God’s love ever really leaves us. Sometimes the storms are just so dark that we feel forsaken, that we forget who He is and who We are.

Only his love can mend your brokenness. Time isn’t the only thing that heals wounds you know? You don’t have to wait years for healing to come, God wants to mend you today! You only have to surrender the broken pieces to Him.

To surrender those pieces you must let go of unforgiveness and pride. You must desire healing more than you desire brokenness. Why would anyone desire such a thing, you ask?

A tragic moment can become your life’s story if you let it. If you feel victimized and take that feeling on as your identity and your right, then you will not surrender it easily.

The same can be said of unforgiveness, no matter what the person or person(s) did to you to warrant such offense, you have taken the seat of justice that only God can rightfully occupy. In doing this, you refuse to heal because that would mean you have forgotten and moved past their hurt.

This harboring of resentment only hurts you, not them. It limits you and chains you, ultimately giving their offense more power and impact in your life.

And so, I admit, that I am a broken vessel.

That though broken I am still a vessel. Mended and restored but not completely. Filled and being filled but not empty.

Let your broken pieces paint a testimony of God’s redemptive work in your life. Let Him remake and reshape you into the image of Jesus. This process will deepen you, will grow you and make you stronger. And someday soon, that vessel will look something like this…

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Shiny, new, containing an ocean of His love.

God- I surrender my broken pieces to you, reshape me into my original design. That I may best reflect the heart of Christ to those around me, and become an ocean of that love in a desert world. Thirsty and reaching for more…Father, use me, this broken vessel to proclaim your truth to the very ends of the earth. Amen. 

A Special Announcement

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Hello everyone!! I know I haven’t been posting much lately, summer is a busy season for many! However, that isn’t entirely the reason behind my absence.

God is preparing us for something new!

For many years now, Aaron and I have played music together and have received words from trusted friends, prophets, seers, and pastors about what our ministry would look like. We have pursued ministry positions and have sought the Lord and His Will for our lives, playing in our church worship band, serving in kids ministry, and pouring ourselves into what we felt would bring God glory.

When we graduated from the Columbus School of Supernatural Ministry, we knew that God was deploying us, sending us out to make a difference in Marion. We joined Hope Family Church, knowing that it was God’s will and from there we have matured even more in Christ and our giftings.

I say all this briefly, leaving out all the hours practicing, the long drives, the prayers and moments when we honestly didn’t know what would happen or if we would even have the time and money to pursue our dreams.

My husband has taken a leap of faith. He has left his farming job behind and is currently pursuing the dream that God’s been preparing for us and in us, and that dream rests in the very name of this blog…Hope Song.

I didn’t realize at the time what this name would become. I was only looking for a blog name that encompassed my heart’s desire, to be a dealer in Hope, spreading the hope of Christ through worship. Not long after I started the blog I began my first business, Hope Song Creations, selling repurposed antiques, in a sense, breathing new life into what others had discarded.

I placed it on the back shelf when, at the time, we needed extra income that wasn’t coming through the business. I began working for Silverline, making windows and still work there today. Waiting for the moment when God would open a door to greater things!

What does this next chapter look like for us?

Aaron has started by teaching guitar, bass, and piano lessons to generate income. He is an excellent and patient teacher. If you live in Ohio and are interested, you can find our page here: Aaron’s Music Lessons

The next step is kickstarting Hope Song Music as a way of promoting our talent, making connections, and if we generate enough income, I will be able to leave my factory job and fully join Aaron in reaching our shared goals. This step involves playing music for parties, weddings, local events and shops, youth groups, fundraisers, and so much more. We will literally play anywhere and any family-friendly genre to fit the occasion.

This step also involves starting a youtube channel in order to share our music. Our intention and dream is for Hope Song Music to become Hope Song Ministries, a multi-faceted ministry where we will travel, worship, and share our testimonies and messages to churches and events wherever God leads us.

Already (this is Aaron’s second week), we have faced spiritual attacks. Aaron lost his voice all week from an illness and wasn’t able to sing with me for our first 45-minute gig. Thankfully, God came through and everything went great!

We aren’t surprised when spiritual attack comes, in fact, it fires me up! It affirms in me that God wants us to do this and satan is terrified that we will succeed in it. If it was easy I’d be skeptical, I’d wonder if we really are making the devil nervous.

On top of these two steps, there is so much more we are doing. We still serve at our church and I am still writing novels that I hope to publish in the near future! All of this time is well spent and I find myself attempting to “work” on these things while I am at work, welding window after window…I believe in the words spoken over us and I know that with God, the best is yet to come and closer now than it’s ever been.

Thank you all for always supporting me and lifting me up with your words and blogs! You are a blessing and I value your words of wisdom and prayers!

May God bless your dreams and bring them to fruition, that you would find the courage to take a leap of faith after your own calling, knowing that God will always be there to catch you, knowing that though the path isn’t easy, it is worth it…and may God be given all the glory…forever and ever, amen.