Whether to weather

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

I like to have a fair amount of control over my environment, don’t you? We use our air conditioners in the summer, and the heater in the winter. We wear sunscreen, sunglasses, coats, mittens and rain jackets — depending on the forecast. Because our relative affluence allows us to control our exposure to weather, we often forget how it can affect us.

But weather holds tremendous power. The wind is especially powerful — depending on its speed, it can fly a kite, disturb a picnic, bring in a thunderstorm, or flatten an entire town. It can howl in the night, or gently rustle the leaves on a fall day. For all of our advances, we cannot control it. And I find it oddly inspiring that Jesus uses wind to describe the spiritually born-again.

Like the wind, the Holy Spirit is a free agent. It can be a hurricane or a gentle breeze. And even more than that — I’m supposed to be “led” by the Spirit! By something I can’t direct, that may choose to soothe or upheave depending on God’s plan.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a bit scary to me. A bit dangerous. Part of me wants to hide in my church pew as a good, church-going mother. “I’m doing my part down here, God. I take the kids to church, I pray for people around me. I help others every now and then. I said a swear word the other day but that was only after a large board fell on my foot. I’m sorry about that, but it really hurt! You see, just being human takes quite a bit of my energy. How am I supposed to make room for the unpredictable, uncontrollable wind of the Spirit?”

And no sooner do those thoughts enter my mind that another one rushes in: Choose Jesus or choose self — there is no in-between.

I must literally become dust in the wind, going wherever the Spirit leads. Otherwise what’s the point?

18 thoughts on “Whether to weather

  1. Your last sentence struck me, “I must literally become dust in the wind, going wherever the Spirit leads. Otherwise what’s the point?” — Just this morning as I was praying I felt the spirit telling me I need to hear and do, hear and do – hear the spirit then act on His prompting – don’t justify, hesitate or procrastinate. I pray for the courage to follow the spirit – and may you too 😉

    Rachel

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  2. “…How am I supposed to make room for the unpredictable, uncontrollable wind of the Spirit?”

    There is no good answer to this question because I don’t believe we can make room for the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Spirit just shows up and takes over.

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  3. Rachel — I have also felt that “hear and do” instruction. It’s like being blindfolded at times and God telling me when to step, when to stop, when to turn. It does take courage, and I’m grateful that God supplies this because I certainly don’t have it on my own. Thanks for a great comment.

    Larry — you’re right, it’s not like I can reorganize a corner of my life to make room for the Spirit. I can, though, keep myself so busy that I don’t hear it. Yesterday God told me that I need to learn to tune out the spiritual/mental “noise,” to hear Him better. I find it interesting that He didn’t say to eliminate the noise, but to choose not to focus on it. So I’m working on that right now.

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  4. Hi Anna
    Your post reminds me of something the Lord showed me about twenty years ago.
    I was in a charismatic church which was ticking all the right boxes in comparison to what else was around. It was a body ministry type meeting rather than led from the front, however there was a movement within to create strong leadership and no matter what was taught, there were still those who desperately wanted to be led by the nose and to be told what to do.

    One day as we worshipped, the Lord gave me some detailed pictures.

    I saw some tumbleweed tearing across the barren dusty scrubland. As a plant it has no value and very little substance. But as it went, being so light, it kept changing direction with the slightest change in the wind. Everywhere it went, it distributed seeds.
    The Lord said to me that this is how He created his children to be, blown by His wind and throwing His seeds everywhere.

    The next picture took me back to my school days (in the fifties) There was a comic, the Beano, which had (as all comics do) a bunch of misfit schoolkids always getting into trouble. I particularly remember a story drawn in this comic of the children rolling a snowball across the school fields. It got bigger and bigger and bigger. If any child was stupid enough to get in front, he just got rolled up in the snowball. The cartoon showed them continuing to roll this monster ball, much bigger than themselves, but with the heads, legs, and feet of the unfortunates just sticking out of it.

    The cartoon always amused me because I can remember doing the same one winter. At school we made a massive snowball and rolled it into the goal mouth and it stayed there well into spring before disappearing. Nobody could move it or play football for ages.

    This picture was plainly God’s view of the church. A sluggish almost immovable structure which just deep freezes its members giftings. Woe betide anyone foolish enough to try and change things, they in the same fashion just get rolled up by the juggernaut.
    There is no vision for the value of an individual being blow by God, distributing seed where God wills.

    I personally prefer the random life of the wind.

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  5. Frank, thank you for this comment. I can identify with both pictures. Right now I’m more in a tumbleweed mode, but in the past I have felt myself being pulled into the snowball. I am hoping and praying that it is possible to be part of the church community/ministry without become part of “immovable structure.” It all comes down to our relationship with Jesus, right? It seems that is the biggest challenge in the church right now, doing His work and staying close to Him at the same time. Imagine all of us being led by the Spirit, together in the same direction! How powerful and what a tremendous threat to the enemy. Churches are among the bloodiest of spiritual battlegrounds right now.

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  6. Hi Anna
    I wish you were right about it being possible to be part of church without becoming part of the immovable structure. However any church which has a hierarchy guarantees an immovable structure, at least to some level, for the simple fact that Satan beguiled the saints into accepting the notion hierarchy in order to get himself between man and God.

    Yes, absolutely, it all comes down to our relationship with Jesus. But look around you and see all those who happily accept that the Pastor does a good job ON THEIR BEHALF, and that is the same measure that they are NOT taking responsibility before God for their own relationship. If a church has these members in it, then the spirit which works at separating man and God is resident and doing its job.

    It doesn’t matter how wonderful the Pastor is, he works within a false church system. It is the false teaching of hierarchy and covering which causes the saints to be emasculated, and makes the battle impossible to win within the church, and frequently causes the early death of Godly man who want to serve God in some form of church leadership.

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  7. Frank,

    You made some very insightful comments in your last couple of posts. I agree with you the nature and structure of the church system fosters a passive approach to Christianity. It has set itself inbetween God and man in many ways. It is a battlefield for sure that will be taken over by the enemy – as many churches have been.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Rachel

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  8. This line of thought is deeply interesting to me and goes to the core of what’s happening right now across the world with Christianity. People are leaving the church in huge numbers. Rachel as you know I have read a number of your posts and I have a great amount of respect for you following the wind of the Spirit.

    But here’s my question: We have deeply committed followers of Jesus leaving the church to worship independently, and then we have discouraged would-be followers leaving the church to worship not at all, either becoming atheist, agnostic, or simply humanistic. So when the broken seekers around us go to church, who will be there to help them find Jesus?

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    1. Hi Anna,

      This is a great discussion but a tough one – Jesus never said these days would be easy, and glad you asked

      I recently posted a video on your question http://stirringthedeep.com/2009/10/10/foundation-for-young-believers/

      Times are changing as we come to the end. The enemy is taking over the sanctuary -as the Word says. It will be full of lies and deception – not the best place for a vulnerable new believer. It is a hard truth to face. But we have to look at what the Word says, not what we want to rationalize – esp. the OT prophets who spoke of these days. God is powerful enough to save and to provide as I have discovered over and over in this area. Here are some verses on why I think God is calling us out of the church system. http://stirringthedeep.com/2009/03/09/leaving-the-sanctuary-verses/

      We can make lists about what is wrong with the church, we can rationalize why we should stay and “fight” but what does God want us to do? What does His Word say – that should be our focus.

      As for saving souls – I believe the Word that it is God who saves – and His ways and means to do so are unlimited – again He will provide in this time. We have taken so much power from Him and given it to the church. We need to put it back in His hands and trust Him.
      Isaiah 59:1 “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. ”

      Rachel

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      1. Hi Rachel —

        This is indeed a tough conversation! I listened to your video and couldn’t agree more that we are already in the time of the great deception and falling away. There are truly HUGE problems with the institutional church system and as Frank suggested, it can be very difficult to be a free agent in a system that swallows its members.

        “But we have to look at what the Word says, not what we want to rationalize – esp. the OT prophets who spoke of these days.” Agreed. Often we want to skip over those parts about judgment and wrath, but God’s judgment on us is coming and no one can hide. THIS is the truth that we want to rationalize away. Jesus saves us from this fate hence the beautiful message of the gospel. But even so judgment is still coming.

        So in this time of falling away and impending judgment, hearing the Holy Spirit is the most important thing. If you can’t hear the Spirit in a church, and when you do hear the Spirit its calling you out of church, then you must go. But please don’t assume that the Spirit is saying the same thing to the rest of us.

        I just did a quick review of the book of Acts and found at least 7 examples of deception/false beliefs in the early church, one of them quite serious (Acts 20:30). Leaving the church community was never a solution, and even in your own list of verses I cannot find adequate scriptural support for leaving the church system.

        “As for saving souls – I believe the Word that it is God who saves – and His ways and means to do so are unlimited – again He will provide in this time. We have taken so much power from Him and given it to the church. We need to put it back in His hands and trust Him.” Totally agreed.

        One of the tools the Spirit gives to us is discernment. We are not merely at the mercy of the teachers around us. We can discern truth and error in our churches not because we are so smart but because the Spirit gives us this understanding. Assuming that new, growing, and mature believers cannot operate in this discernment (and should therefore come out of the dangerous church system) is also taking the power from Him. Be aware, be on guard, do not be deceived. Test the spirits. Be shrewd but innocent. And above all, love “not with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

        Church is a battlefield. It has always been so, and will become increasingly true until the end. And like Paul, I want to be able to say “So be on your guard! Remember that for three years [or 10 or 30 or whatever the Spirit wills] I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:31

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        1. Anna,

          You words “don’t assume that the Spirit is saying the same thing to the rest of us.” I feel that it is the Spirit that reveals this truth to us in His timing. I heard this message 5 years ago. Others heard the message a couple of weeks ago. How God works in each life varies. The more people I talk to the more I realize this awareness is a revelation of the spirit and not man’s logical discourse because thinking about not being in a church is so contrary to the mainstream, what we have been taught, what is honored, what is reinforced. So the only way we would even come to this conclusion would be by the teaching of the spirit. This was certainly true for me. I don’t know how God is working in each person’s life – but more and more people are hearing the call.

          I know people are where they are and since it is the spirit’s revelation not man’s – so what I encourage is that each one of us needs to be in the Word daily one-on-one with God seeking HIS truth and praying for our eyes to be opened to the truth. Once I left the system it amazed me at how blinded I had been in many areas. We need to examine our hearts to make sure it is in Him we trust and not the church system. We need to be in all of His Word because it fits together as a puzzle piece. And we need to trust Him to be our Teacher and giving Him that time and not always following someone else’s’ study with their interpretation. If we come with a heart to truly know, understanding our capability to be deceived, we can trust God will lead us.

          But so often when I mention this idea of leaving the church people never stop to examine. They don’t spend time in prayer over this issue. It is a quick response of what they feel is right. My prayer is that people would take the time to truly seek and give themselves time – months to truly hear God’s voice. Honestly, it can be very difficult to hear His among all the others including our own saying what we should do. Deception is great and vast – and the thing about it is you don’t know you are deceived. But I feel that if our heart is to truly follow God’s voice and we are listening by abiding in His Word then He will lead us down the path He wants us to go.

          Rachel

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  9. Why do we perceive the Spirit of the Lord as someTHING which we need to organise and structure. How about just BEING the Body of the living Lord Jesus instead?
    Sadly, the answer is that so few believers know how to be even an individual part of the body, let alone be the Body collectively.

    We all know how to be a part of the church don’t we. Just pootle along on Sunday and take a seat. The performance starts at 10.30 sharp.

    Anna
    You said, “Imagine all of us being led by the Spirit, together in the same direction! How powerful and what a tremendous threat to the enemy.”
    THIS is the key, but it starts with being led by the spirit, NOT BY THE PASTOR.

    MR PASTOR, PLEASE GET OUT OF THE WAY. I CAN’T SEE GOD WHEN YOU’RE STANDING IN THE WAY ORCHESTRATING EVERYTHING. STOP TRYING TO REPRESENT GOD, I KNOW YOU MEAN WELL BUT IT DOESN’T WORK.

    The hierarchical system is the ANTICHRIST system of the church. I know it sounds offensive but it is true.
    Consider the following.
    “ANTI” means “instead of, or a substitute for”.
    “CHRISTOS” means anointing.
    Today’s church is a system which enables a bunch of people to function collectively together, under a human command instead of the Spirit. Whether the pastor is guided by God or not, he is still the one who directs the performance that day.
    THE HIERARCHICAL SYSTEM IS THE HUMAN ALTERNATIVE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.

    This is nothing other than the spirit of antichrist running the body.
    It matters not that the Pastor is a man of God, the SYSTEM for depriving God of His children has done its job. The children never mature in their relationship with their Heavenly Father because they are never drawn by church to function with their “Daddy”, without an officially appointed mediator.

    If only the saints knew the passion that God has for his little children.
    If only the saints knew how good a father he would be to them.
    If only the saints knew how big His inheritance ON EARTH is for his children.
    If only the saints knew they could learn to hear HIS voice just like a little child learns.
    If only the saints knew that being a saint is not an academic qualification.
    If only the saints knew that they DEFINITELY HAD a place in God’s plan.
    If only the saints had confidence in Him.

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  10. “THE HIERARCHICAL SYSTEM IS THE HUMAN ALTERNATIVE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.

    This is nothing other than the spirit of antichrist running the body.
    It matters not that the Pastor is a man of God, the SYSTEM for depriving God of His children has done its job.”

    From the very beginning mankind has tried to take on more than his fair share of control from God. We know this about ourselves and others, so why does it surprise you when in happens in a group setting?

    Most of my closest times with my Heavenly Father have been when I’m alone, in the proverbial prayer closet. He rewards me in that way, when I seek Him on my own. And when I don’t seek Him, when I don’t value that relationship above all others – it is nobody’s fault but my own.

    We could get into all kinds of biblical examples about individual verses corporate worship. I believe we would find that the two are quite different. Corporate chuch worship was never intended to replace individual face-time with God. It was, however, meant to get us in contact with other real and very flawed people like ourselves so we can mature in love and grace.

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  11. The spirit of the antichrist is definitely at work in our churches. Where else would it be? In my first experiences with organized church work/ministry I was taken aback and yes surprised by the amount of both human and spiritual opposition to being led by the Spirit while doing work in a church setting. But after much prayer and being in the Word about this, it no longer surprises me. Of course the spirit of the antichrist is at work in our churches! Hands down that’s where the enemy can do the most harm!

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  12. At my church I have been part of small groups for almost 8 years now. In those 8 years I have seen in church going folks – alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography addiction, divorce, depression, materialism, and all kinds of other ways that people search for purpose and for me I wouldn’t trade any of it. Except of course I’m remorseful that people suffer, it feeds my spirit. The Holy Spirit in me. For in all those things I have seen God working. It’s obvious those are the kind of people that need God. If only perfect people showed up Sunday then church truly would be useless. Now would I get those experiences that I have had in small groups on Sunday morning??? No, but on Sunday morning I see those people singing to God, praying to God, and recieving instruction from God and it too feeds my spirit(BTW, “those people” include myself). My humble suggestion is to seek God’s council in which church to join, not if you should or shouldn’t. For me it will forever be a church that embraces small groups (people meeting in homes to fellowship, study, and pray). It’s a no brainer that we are called to community. Those that don’t get their community from a church body do seek it in other ways(home meetings, online churches, blogging) and that’s not wrong. What would be is to pass judgement on those that find community in church.

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  13. Brad
    Thank you for your suggestion to seek God’s counsel about church. We did. It was a process which took some agonising over because we actually liked that church, but it also was backed up by dreams and visions which confirmed the decision.
    We absolutely knew that we would never get close to God in church as we have since leaving. Nor would we hear what God wanted to say to us when church everywhere teaches the opposite.
    So here we are now. We fellowship with a small handful of ex churchers. We have no hierarchy and we take every week as the spirit leads, ministering through all the saints. We have learned amazing things over the last 3 years, and I would never ever want to compromise that again by a structural system of control.
    Regarding the needy people you mention, I have always seen it as something which should be the responsibility of the all saints at all times, not the responsibility of the church as a structure.
    I have spent the last thirty years ministering to such, both within and without church and particularly within my business setting.
    ie. I don’t need a church organisation behind me to do what God called me to do as a believer, I just get on and do what God convicts me to do.
    Frank

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  14. Frank,
    And how great will it be when we are all in heaven rejoicing and singing as one body. I mentioned a great church, with imperfections, that I’ve been a part of for 8 years. The thing is I’ve been going to church for 30 and much of that was not a church that would have continued to feed my soul. You were led out of that situation too and say that you now meet with other folks and minister to your work community and minister to others and that fits my definition of church(a body of believers). Real spiritual growth happens in that small setting of believers. In Matthew 16:17, Christ says that based on Peter’s confession of who he was, Christ, son of the living God, that Jesus would establish his church. Act 9:31 paints an awesome picture of what a church is…”It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.” And 1 Corinthians 12 says to me that you are as much a part of the body of Christ as any church goer. For those who have not found what you have outside of church, there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of churches out there that are good for our souls and we shouldn’t discount the whole lot all based on a few bad apples.

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  15. Thanks Brad for your encouragement.

    I am truly pleased that you get fulfillment from your church, but I’d like to explain where I am coming from.
    Even though there are wonderful churches out there, and the Spirit works through many, that is no evidence that they are flowing in God’s plan. It is just evidence of the grace and mercy of God!

    When Israel demanded a king, God told Samuel that it was rebellion against God’s reign over them. However they insisted, and God, after warning them of the dire consequences, gave them Saul, the best man in the land. Saul was then anointed with the Spirit of the Lord and was counted amongst the prophets!

    Therefore God clearly anoints an act of rebellion!!!!!!!

    If God refused to ever presence his Spirit amongst mankind -when we are in error, how would we ever find our way back to Him?
    The presence of the Spirit of God in a church is therefore not evidence that it is rightly ordered, but just that God doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty at times!

    I am not discounting the whole church scene based on a few bad apples. It is just that I can clearly see that the hierarchical system of church structure, which all churches function under has no mandate from scripture.
    Such a structure is an abomination to God because it emasculates the saints in their personal calling before God.
    The hierarchical system is an import from worldly structures because of the church’s blatant unbelief in God’s ability to lead His own children.

    Hierarchy is crucial to worldly organisations. It is the means which commands descend from the head of an organisation downward to the least member. Hierarchy is also the way information ascends upward from the lowest member to the head.
    However the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ IS NOT AN ORGANISATION. IT IS AN ORGANISM!
    Organism and organisation are mutually exclusive ideas.
    The Body of Christ has an omniscient Head. There is no need for information to travel upwards in a hierarchical way.
    Each member of the Body, has the Spirit of Christ dwelling within. There is no need for the hierarchy to pass commands downwards.

    This is why 1Cor 12 says, ….I would have you know the head of every man is Christ and the head of every woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.
    13 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered DISHONOURS HIS HEAD……(Christ!)

    This makes it plain that if I am in a church where I need permission from the Pastor before I can pray or prophesy, THEN I DISHONOUR CHRIST.
    This is the case in every almost church I see. There is no freedom for the saints to function as the members of the Body in the way that Christ set them. The church out there, may be a body of believers, but it just aint the Body of Christ! It is the body of some Paul or Apollos or Cephas or denomination, as denounced in 1Cor1v12.

    Paul makes it clear in 1Cor3v1-3 etc. that the hierarchical system maintains carnal immaturity amongst the saints.

    I would never again allow any other christian (leader, pastor etc) to be over my head, I value Christ’s headship over me far too much and will not dishonour Him like that.

    However I am willing and enjoy “submitting one to another” brother or sister. This is a very different idea to that of submitting to someone with a badge or title that says he is, for some earthly reason, higher than me.

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