Holy S***** Did I Get It Wrong!

I made the Holy S***** a bad word.

When I talk to fellow Christians I don’t often find myself using S***** in conjunction with Holy. I have no problems talking about God or Jesus but the Holy Sp****, these are words that, when put together, are not part of my vocabulary. I do not deny that God has power. I believe the stories recorded in the Gospels that document the miracles performed by Jesus. Still, when it comes to things that happen right now I am more likely to attribute them to God or Jesus not a move or power initiated by the Holy Spi***. I treat these words, like they are bad words when used together.

It’s easier to ignore what you can’t defend.

I find my journey to discover what I have been missing in my life as a follower of Christ has led me to a simple and yet deeply disappointing conclusion; much of my avoidance of things attributed to the Holy Spir** comes from my inability to defend the actions of those who have made the Holy Spiri* a bad word. The more I dig the more I see that the lies and the truth are so close that mounting any defense of signs and wonders, of the miraculous and the powerful is almost impossible. What makes it worse is that keeping my mouth closed when I am tempted to try to defend is not the limit of my reaction to the indefensible. I have gone from not being sure, to not believing or at least rarely believing that the Spirit of God is at work in the same ways He did throughout the New Testament.

It’s easier to embrace the predictable.

So much of my doctrine is rooted in logic. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if my logic wasn’t confined to the limits of my imperfection and the deep desire to be in control or at least feel prepared for what happens next. We embrace human understanding based on human knowledge because it is easier to predict the way God will work. Imagine yourself in the upper room on Pentecost. You had heard the promises of Jesus about the Holy Spirit and you are following Jesus’ command to wait until you are clothed with power from on high. What would you expect to happen? What would your best guess be, based on what you had heard? What would you predict the creator of the universe would do to fulfill His promised gift? I am pretty sure the rushing wind, tongues of fire and miraculous preaching of the gospel in other languages would not be what you imagined nor would they be comfortable or logical.

Fast forward two thousand years and apply comfortable logic and the desire to feel in control. Much of our doctrine is limited to our imperfection and the deep desire to be in control or at least feel prepared for what happens next. Because of this we discount a move of the Holy Spirit that is not predictable and may I add tame.

 It’s easier to live what we understand.

I have to admit that I am much more comfortable in situations that I understand. I don’t have to be able to fully comprehend or explain what is going on but I need to know that someone else can. I feel much safer knowing that the world I am experiencing has a structure and limits that are within the everyday human experience. Once this migrates into my faith I am likely to create two categories so that I can justify my faith in the accuracy of the Bible while still having a structure and limits that make me feel safe.

I understand that the Bible is full of God reaching down and disrupting the everyday norms for human existence. He spoke and things were created. He willed and the seas parted. His Spirit acted and a virgin became pregnant. He, in human form, walked on water. He came back to life. His Spirit caused an uneducated fisherman to speak with such effect that 3000 people became followers… This is just a small overview of the signs and wonders that cannot be explained or understood but that was then and this is now. I don’t need to understand that because I don’t live it. What I live now, what I am comfortable with, is a structured existence with limitations.

I can’t defend, predict or understand but it is time I experienced.

I grew up around prosperity preaching, false prophecy, questionable faith healing and out of context Bible quotes used to defend an “I feel therefore it is God” theology. I told a Pentecostal pastor friend that I had become very uncomfortable with this part of my faith after many bad experiences with fakes and frauds who seemed to only want two things, money and popularity. What he said to me is just now fully sinking in. He said “if you find a counterfeit $100 bill does that make all other $100 bills counterfeit?”

Even though I have run into more than one counterfeit and I can’t defend their actions, even though, when it is real, I am uncomfortable because I cannot predict what will happen and I cannot fully understand it, I will no longer make the Holy Spirit a bad word or assume a potential move of the Holy Spirit to be a counterfeit.

11 comments

  1. I became a Christian during the Jesus Movement – not in California, but the Holy Spirit did not worry about state lines. Witnessing was a lot easier then – no people becoming offended, and you felt that something was going to happen. I feel like I have been guided, too many coincidences to not be God’s direction, but an out-and-out outpouring of the Holy Spirit may just be one of those once in a generation things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think revival is that once a generation outpouring but I am exploring the more personal/corporate (church or larger gathering) in my journey as well – I believe because of the mega church movement this generation has missed its revival of the people not following Christ because programs not the Holy Spirit have been to way churches try to bring Jesus into the lives of people – I think we are due for a true revival (think – not totally convinced but getting there) I also think on the personal/corporate level we are also due for a return to that regular outpouring which would be affirming to the follower of Christ reviving those inside the church (again think – not totally convinced but getting there) The Holy Spirit was moving big time during the Jesus movement it is just unfortunate that the doctrine was not verbalized

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      1. Amen. I see too much social gatherings and a mild secular concept with people pointing to a cross on occasion instead of truly worshipping. As an individual, we can get out of church what we put into it. The Holy Spirit can touch us, but a true revival is something that I have not seen in a ‘church’ in a long time. And I do think the angels sing, and I can almost hear them, when one person is ‘revived.’

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  2. This is one of the pitfalls of living in an affluent society. We get this sense of entitlement and instead of thanking God for how richly He’s blessed us, and asking Him how He wants us to use our blessings, we want Him to make us richer. You’re right about motives being huge in all this. If we’re using everything we have and asking God for more so we can be used more by Him, I don’t think there’s any limit to what He can do. But we get all hung up on our own egos and comforts and pleasures and entertainment, etc. and our vision gets smaller and smaller.
    I’ve got to the point where I pray Psalm 34:7 every morning – “Lord, I delight in You. Give me the desires of my heart.” By that I mean, “Instill in my heart the things YOU want to do, so I will be praying the prayers YOU want to answer.” Too many people think that verse means if they “butter up God” enough, He’ll give them WHAT they desire, no matter how selfish it is. But the verse says He’ll give us THE DESIRES – the longing to be who He wants us to be, where He wants us to be, doing what He wants us to do. When that happens, we’ll have true joy.

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    1. I think we have confused the Holy Spirit moving with money and pleasure like you said – It is the TV preachers of a certain bent that have moved us from a spiritual experience to a tangible worldly outcome

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  3. David, there is an old saying that helped me: Let go and let God. If you are doubting the move of the Spirit today, talk to a missionary who is in the field in underdeveloped areas. They see the work of the Spirit daily.

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    1. It’s interesting you suggested this – your advice matches an experience I had yesterday – I was sharing a little about my journey mostly about prayer and believing God for miracles and that He still performs signs and wonders – the group was mostly Canadian pastors on a weekly ZOOM call – they politely agreed but mostly stayed quiet, all but one. One of the pastors was from Africa although he currently pastors in Canada – his response was strong and excited – I thought to myself when you live in a 1st world country you see prayer as an act of obedience that does very little other than prove your obedience and moves of the Spirit as an uncomfortable thing that may or may not be real – When you live in a 3rd world country you see prayer as the only way to survive and a move of the Spirit as a sign of the power of God and His love for you – I love where I live but envy those who are so free in their understanding of the Holy Spirit – you suggestion is one I wish every 1st world Christian would take because they would see God, through His Spirit in everything that they let God through the Holy Spirit move – blessing brother

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Personally, I have not been to a third-world country, but support some friends that are missionaries there. Their stories are amazing. Besides attending an AOG church for five years and getting my training there, the closest I have experienced a REAL move of the Spirit was in Israel. We are on a tour and went into a church close to the Pool of Siloam. Another group was already there worshipping the Lord. I don’t know if they were singing in their native language or a spiritual one, but we joined in with our spiritual language. It was the most beautiful experience that I have ever been involved in. We hugged each other and wished them well. A couple days later we encountered them again at the location of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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