Here we go, the last part of my TWMS3 recap:
Sunday morning’s events began with Prayer for the Nations. Each regional director came up on stage one at a time and shared about each region. Then a student led us in focused prayer, again one at a time, for each region. I really appreciated this event because it gave us the opportunity to put into practice, as a community, something that had been emphasized all weekend: the importance of prayer and abiding in Jesus.
I also really loved the several lines that we sung in French and, later, the Communion prayer spoken in French. But, again, I’m biased. (In case you didn’t know, I speak French.)
Next was the Sunday morning Gathering led by speakers Crystal and Steve Martin. Some key points:
- You’re not always naturally pre-dispositioned to what God calls you to.
- When we yield the “fish and loaves” of our lives to God, then God does beautiful, impossible things. [So true. Without God involved, things tend to feel empty, not enough, and kind of inconsequential, at least in my experiences.]
- May we not be a “rich young ruler” generation. But may we at least have a rich young ruler moment wherein we realize that Jesus is asking us to give up our stuff.
- Our money is not Jesus, and our things are not Jesus. If we present the contrary to the nations, then we disillusion them.
- There is a difference between honoring our parents and trying to please our parents. People-pleasing must be laid at the altar.
- God repositions our predispositions.
- Go with the strength you have to free people from the enemy. (Think: Judges 6, Gideon.)
- When you surrender, what do you surrender to?
A random thought I had to myself: Let’s be careful that we don’t assume that doing mental gymnastics equates to nailing deep, profound truth.
Sunday’s Meal With a Missionary lunch was one of my favorite events all weekend. I was able to eat with two missionaries to Asia Pacific, both women who are actually best friends who serve in different countries: Burma and Cambodia. They were so down-to-earth, “normal,” friendly, and wiling to engage. We managed to connect really well, and they were very affirming of my desire to work overseas rather than going overseas with AG World Missions. I found myself jotting down notes during this lunch too:
- “We think that everyone wants to be an American – they don’t.”
- It’s easier to trust God’s will than it is to trust God’s timing.
- Giving your life to missions will never be safe or comfortable, but it will be good.
- Most people do not have a super spiritual “burning bush” experience. And that is entirely normal and realistic because, after all, there was only one burning bush in the Bible.
- Consider Paul – his salvation was his call to missions. He never had a specific, separate moment where God called him to go to Asia and preach; he was simply compelled to tell the world about Jesus after his salvation.
- We must “exegete our community” in the same way that we exegete Scripture.
After lunch, I visited the Exhibit Hall and then went to Starbucks to relax and process what I had experienced so far. I also wanted to prepare myself for the last breakout session of TWM3: Experiencing the Holy Spirit.
Okay, let’s talk about something. Remember when I said that I have a bent toward cynicism, skepticism, and criticism? Well, all three tend to come out when the church starts talking about the Holy Spirit – often for good reason, but not always. But THIS TIME, THIS TIME there was no reason for me to keep the walls up. In all honesty, this breakout session was the best presentation about the Holy Spirit and baptism in the Holy Spirit that I have ever, ever heard. The speakers, a husband and wife team, spoke with gentleness, humility, love, and honesty – in every aspect of their presentation. I so appreciated their willingness to be real, to present themselves as normal human beings (rather than as super spiritual people) who have questions and find some spiritual things to be weird and necessary to wrestle with.
The session began with a video of three students (two men and one woman) talking about their faith experiences before and after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, struggles they had with the idea of baptism in the Holy Spirit, and more. It was a great way to begin, and these students were just as down-to-earth, gentle, humble, loving, and honest as the speakers. The speakers rotated who would speak when (at first the husband spoke, then the wife, then the husband, etc. – sorry, I didn’t catch their names). We went through a list of verses from Scripture that promise the baptism in the Holy Spirit, fulfill it, and discuss its purpose (which is for spiritual power, not for speaking in tongues), etc. The speakers made it clear that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is different from the gift of speaking in tongues and interpretation, which is for the exhortation of the church (rather than the baptism, which is for spiritual power) – interesting differentiation. They also made it clear that salvation is the ONLY prerequisite for the baptism in the Holy Spirit and that speaking in tongues is the evidence of having received it (Acts 10:44-46). Some other key points:
- Jesus needed the power of the Holy Spirit, and the disciples needed it too. So, if Jesus and the disciples needed it, it makes a lot of sense that we would need it too.
- Speaking in tongues is just as “impossible” as a virgin birth and resurrection from the dead. But if you are a Christian who accepts the legitimacy of Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection from the dead, then speaking in tongues is no more “impossible” or weird.
- JESUS is the baptizer, not the human praying for you to receive the baptism.
- You can be Spirit-filled and also be an intellectual – the one does not replace the other.
- Praying in the Spirit = praying God’s will.
- It is not God’s will that ANY should perish. The saved are to deliver the good news. I am God’s Plan A; there is no Plan B.
- Baptism in the Holy Spirit IS a spiritual mystery.
- It’s okay to be a “dry twig.” (I loved this – the husband actually said that phrase and by it meant that it’s okay to be a person who is quiet, stands still, and doesn’t have any loud, stereotypically revival-style reception of the baptism. Hallelujah! Also, can we acknowledge how phenomenal it is that someone in leadership actually acknowledged that it’s okay to be that kind of person?!)
- All we need to do is position ourselves to receive the baptism. No stress need be involved. Salvation is the ONLY prerequisite to receive. So, you do not need to be at a certain “spiritual level.” God doesn’t wait for you to somehow become qualified; he is the one who qualifies you (think: salvation by grace).
- Laying on of hands is not necessary to receive the baptism. (Note: this does not mean that laying on of hands is a terrible thing by any means – it’s just not a prerequisite for receiving the baptism.)
- The baptism in the Holy Spirit is kind of like laughter, a natural response – just a supernatural response.
- You use your own faith and mouth to receive the baptism (though, by all means, it is a spiritual mystery).
- You will not receive something false from the devil. (There are no “devil tongues” versus “God tongues.”)
- Being a Christian is beautiful and impossible in so many ways – in this too.
I am still glory-ing in how phenomenal this session was. Can more of us please speak these truths with such love, grace, humility, and normalcy?! Seriously. It would help people out so, so much. There is no need for spiritual arrogance when it comes to sharing about the Holy Spirit. Also, let’s discuss this for one hot second: There is no hierarchy within the Trinity, so knowing the Holy Spirit intimately is no more “cool” and “special” and “spiritual” than knowing Jesus the Son and God the Father intimately. Let’s be real. Cut the arrogance.
I could talk about that breakout session all day. But that wasn’t the end of TWMS3! Afterwards, I attended the last Meal With a Missionary, where I ate with a missionary to England. Again, I jotted down some great thoughts that she shared:
- God is active everywhere. He just wants you to join him.
- The purpose of missionaries is not to stay in their assigned countries forever. They are not “needed” once the Gospel is accepted. (But each missionary’s journey is different. Think: missionaries who stay for the duration of their lives and never witness anyone become a Christian.)
- Experience a big world. See where God is active.
- It won’t be easy. Just take steps of obedience.
And, finally, the final Gathering! By this time, I had realized that it is next to impossible for me to do things corporately (by this I mean that it goes against my will) – though I like the idea of doing things corporately. I’ve always known this about myself when it comes to group projects at school, but I also see that my skepticism and critical spirit kick into full gear at church too, when I’m being led by someone else. I tend to always triple-check whether or not an aspect of the service is biblical, but that’s not my job – it’s the leader’s, and in certain situations, I am to simply trust their leadership and follow. Also, I realized that just as sometimes teenagers need to yield sermon focus to adults and vice versa, so may I need to yield to others with a different bent (like those who dance in worship) – not always, but sometimes. And vice versa. GolLY, Laurin, get with it.
Some key points from the service:
- Let’s settle for nothing less than a first-hand account of God.
- Because we care, our hearts should be to move people CLOSER to God.
- May we trust God with our eternities as well as with our paychecks.
- What You do in us, may You do through us too.
- “Out of ashes You lifted us” (a line from a song that gets to me in the best of ways every time I sing it)
- “Your purpose is to make disciples, not decisions.” (in the sense of actually making lifetime disciples, not just making sure that people pray a prayer to accept Christ and then peace out)
The above points are from a conglomeration of leaders that spoke before the main speaker stepped on stage. When Greg Mundis did come to deliver his message, I took as many notes as I could. He gave a phenomenal, imperative message about the influences of heredity and environment on us as human beings. He specifically looked at a case study of Heman from 1 Chronicles 6:33 and the influences of heredity and environment on him. Considering that they were not the greatest influences, we were led to ask this question: How could Heman still have a song in his heart despite it all? What made the difference for him? Well, check out 1 Chronicles 16:41: “Give thanks to God, for his love never quits!” and 2 Chronicles 5:12: “Yes! God is good! His loyal love goes on forever!” Heman was a musician, and these were lines from his songs based on beautiful promises that God had made to him despite his heredity and his environment. “Grace” means “unmerited favor.” And God’s grace makes all the difference! It supersedes heredity, environment, everything. As Renay West said, “Lineage and environment stand nullified at the feet of grace.” Something to glory over, absolutely. As well, Jesus has made us whole people. May we throw ourselves on the grace of God.
. . . I think that’s a pretty great ending point for my TWMS3 recap. Thanks for listening to my tangents and for reading my random bullet points! Let’s continue to mull over these thoughts together.
January 10 Joy Dare: A Gift Sour, Sweet, Just Right
Sour: I somehow managed to iron holes into a new shirt but then was able to put together an outfit I liked even better. (It’s the little things.)
Sweet: Vanilla chai
Just Right: “Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe