Tag Archives: RT Kendall

Growing in God: Word based, Spirit Directed, the Radical Middle, part 2

 

This is a drawing that I did on Good Friday.  It is called “Carol – When I survey the wondrous cross.”  It’s of my mother, who died this January in Toronto, Canada, while I was tethered to South Africa during chemo treatments.  It will be part of my second colouring book, Colouring with Jesus 2 (the first version of the colouring book is available in South Africa via Takealot). Click here if you are in South Africa and would like to purchase one.

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During the last article, we learned the how important the balance of the Word and the Spirit is in our lives.  I had learned this lesson through Canadian broadcaster David Mainse.  He said, If you don’t have the Holy Spirit in your life, you DRY up.  If you don’t have the Word, the Bible in your life, you BLOW up.  Yet when you receive from both the Word and Spirit together, you GROW up.  I thought that this made sense, but I didn’t ponder on it; other that I should always have a biblical base for sharing my prophetic impressions. After all, I did come to faith in a Baptist church.  They love scripture, and so they should! It’s important to have a good, solid understanding of the Bible.  We need to know the Bible, so we have a standard to go by in our faith.  Our personal devotions and words of knowledge aren’t scripture. But these often repeat scripture in a loving, personalized way.

RT Kendall was one of the speakers at our Iris Harvest School. He’s been on the Word side of the church for years, but he became Spirit-filled along the way.  Since he didn’t come from the Spirit side of the church, he keenly sees some tendencies that could pull people away from what is known as the “radical middle,” or the core of our faith.  This term is used by the Vineyard movement, especially by the late Bill Jackson. [Radical Middle ministries dot org]  I remember hearing the term “radical middle” when I was part of the Vineyard. It was certainly something that they strove for.  They even called themselves a ‘centred-set’ rather than a ‘bounded set.’  What they meant by this, was that mainline denominations have a clearly thought-out set of beliefs. Anything outside of these isn’t a part of their creed.  The Vineyard then saw themselves strongly agreeing on the central aspects that all Christians believe. Secondary, more divisive issues, were less central. Vineyardites could differ on these without it being a big deal.  This attitude seemed to change after the Vineyard distanced itself in 1995 during the Toronto Blessing revival.  Alan Hawkins is a theologian based in North Carolina. He unofficially shared with a Vineyard theology forum that he could see changes in the Vineyard after that unfortunate church split.  He said, “If you read [Bill Jackson’s book] Quest for the Radical Middle, you find an amazing record of the work of the Holy Spirit within the Vineyard. That is, until 1995, at which point the book literally changes character and tenor, and reads like a denominational report.”  If you read Jerry Steingard’s book ‘From Here to the Nations, “it reads like Jackson’s first 19 chapters.”  [unofficial report from a retired Vineyard pastor’s Facebook page, May 10, 2019]  The movement may have become ‘safe’ from scoffers, but they lost their place in the radical middle of Spirit and Word. This unfortunate split has been reconciled, and the Catch the Fire stream will always acknowledge their Vineyard roots.

So when you aim to be in the radical middle, you cling to the core truths of your faith. This helps keep us from going off the deep end.  Life is in the middle of the river, where the water is fresh.  It is in this place that many biblical truths that seem to contradict each other, actually don’t.  I would elaborate, but that’s another for another time.  What is important and what matters are the central truths of our faith. The Alpha Course movement takes that same stance. While the Course began in the Anglican Church, many different streams of the Church use it for seekers and new Christians.  Alpha includes all central aspects of Christianity, while secondary teachings like say, the differences of how to baptize, aren’t discussed. That’s what denominational classes are for. Nicky Gumbel shares an idea that he attributes to early church father Augustine, based on the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace;” but not at the expense of the truth.  Nicky gently shared seventeenth century theologian Rupertus Meldenius’s motto, “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty [and] in all things, Charity” in a gentle way. (Click for quote)  Nicky’s explanation was, “In the really essential things of the faith, the things that are at the core of our belief, there would be unity. In the things that are more peripheral (the non-essentials), there be freedom. People can believe different things; that’s fine. And in everything, love.” [Alpha Course, 2009 version, “What about the Church]  This motto has been picked up by many churches, from Anglican to Moravian.  [Mark Ross]

Unfortunately, this conciliatory attitude of unity in essentials hasn’t been adopted by all.  During my research, I discovered one anonymous blog author who wrote: “balancing Spirit and Truth is like trying to balance law and grace.”(for quote click here) [Ben Eastaugh/Chris Sternal-Johnson]  I don’t think this is a fair comparison.  The Bible contains law, but we don’t live BY the law. We need to read the law section of the Old Testament. It teaches us about holiness. The apostle Paul explained Galatians 3:24: “the law was our guardian until Christ came. It protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.”  This means the law teaches and shows us what sin is. But we can’t be made holy through the law; that’s impossible. So you can’t balance living by the law against living by grace. Paul speaks about that in Galatians. That’s going backwards in our faith towards legalism.  This is actually a pitfall of the Word side of the church.  Legalism chokes the life out of you, and only makes you religious.  Danny Silk warned that if teachers play their true role in the church, they will first have to be willing to pursue a supernatural lifestyle.  They will have to be dissatisfied with the armour of their arguments and the lifelessness of their theology. […] Teachers must embrace mystery.”   [Danny Silk, Building a Culture of Honour]

So as faith is dead without works, so theology is dead without the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit helps your faith become active.  The Bible helps your faith become stable.  When Jesus taught his disciples and all those around him, he used “show and tell.” Jesus’ teaching was not passive, even when he taught his disciples to “turn the other cheek.”  This takes an active decision. The writer of Hebrews shared that the Word is alive and powerful, but this is because the Holy Spirit breathes it.  He is the author. Listen to the words of Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

RT Kendall shared in Harvest School talk about how we can grow in godly character and the fruit of the Spirit. This happens through genuine obedience and persistence in our faith, where the Holy Spirit helps us through difficult circumstances. He reforms our hearts. Scripture is an amazing tool to bring change.  Like the scripture in Hebrews 4 that I just shared, this is a living surgical tool. It’s important to not run from this and seek comfort instead.  It takes real guts to be an obedient Christian.  It takes not only head knowledge of Scripture, but also an open heart to let those words transform you.  Say you struggle with fear and insecurity.  You may feel like you are orphaned, and all alone.  Yet, as children of God, who love Jesus Christ, we aren’t orphans anymore. We are loved children.  You may read the words of scripture, but it’s the Holy Spirit that helps you take that word to heart.  It is he who transforms your heart so you can receive that truth, and the love that comes directly from God.

RT told us at Harvest School that we “need to work in the Word, to actively read it, pray it and think on it.  Too often Spirit people want a rhema, or (Holy Spirit) word, because it is quick and we are lazy” [RT Kendall – notes from HS 24, June 15, 2016].   When we pursue scripture with the Holy Spirit, he makes it come alive to us. This is where the practice of Lexio Divina comes in. This is actively reading scripture more than a few times, to allow the words to speak to you.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit can give you an impression of the context of the scripture you are reading.  Say is Jesus is speaking to Martha that he is the resurrection and the life, you can actually imagine Jesus comforting Martha on the death of her brother Lazarus with the hope that he will again be alive.   Jesus was creating a “now moment” full of God’s promise.

These “now moments” are similar to when Heidi Baker ‘stops for the one.’ She does this in obedience to a prompting from the Holy Spirit; the timing is God’s, but there is also a scriptural command to care for the orphans and widows. Some scriptures call these people the “least of these.”  James 1:27 says pure and undefiled devotion, “in the sight of God the Father, is caring for orphans and widows in their distress, and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”   The third Iris core value is to care for the least of these.  The IrisGlobal site shares:  “We look for revival among the broken, humble and lowly, and start at the bottom with ministry to the poor. God chooses the weak and despised things of the world to shame the proud, demonstrating His own strength and wisdom. Our direction is lower still.” [Iris Global site – https://www.irisglobal.org/about/core-values]

When Heidi responds to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, it’s partly by obedience to God’s general guidance in ministry to the poor. But she’s also obedient to the Holy Spirit for the time and place. Heidi shares many such stories in her books. She also was led in January 2010 to stop for me. She gave me roses, a hug and a kiss.  It took years for me to figure out that Heidi was simply led to bless me. I learned from another Iriser in East London, that Heidi often blesses specific people at conferences this way. And on that day, I was the one.  I was in the centre of that convergence. This was the morning after I responded to a missions call, by giving my yes to a life of service. I didn’t know what that would look like. A ministry team member prayed over me, and shared that I would be working with the poor. There are many kinds of poor.  In Ottawa, we have the refugee poor, the single mothers poor, and the hidden poor who work multiple low paying jobs to make ends meet.  I can identify with the latter, since I’ve only once had a job that was able to cover rent and basic expenses – and even that was short lived.  I’ve always just had a part-time job or no job at all.  If I weren’t helped by my dad or husband, I might have been on welfare, despite having two degrees, art school and radio broadcasting school.  Yet, God still supplied my needs.

Then I met the real poor in Pakistan and different African countries. I worked in Ottawa’s east-end with French-speaking west-Africans.  The poor are among us.  They are in townships and neighbourhoods, sometimes hidden in plain sight, sometimes secluded. Do we really require Holy Spirit to remind us about them?  I believe so, yes.  Sometimes we go about our daily lives, and forget about those around us, because we have tunnel vision.  It takes a prompting to shake us out of our stupor. We need to see a divine appointment that’s set up right in front of us.  I’m very thankful when Holy Spirit gives me that leading. Sometimes the Father wants to do something special right then with that specific person. When you respond to this nudge, it’s obedience to BOTH Word and Spirit. Can you reach out to people with just the Bible scripture?  Of course you can.  But will you?  Perhaps.

Brian Nickens is a valued teacher in Bethel Church, Redding. He used to be a Word Christian, and the pastor of a few Calvary Chapel churches.  He wrote a book called “Hunger Driven: Overcoming Fear and Skepticism of the Supernatural Lifestyle.”  Like RT Kendall, he has a solid foundation of scripture. He became Spirit-filled later on.  He shares on his website [brianknickens.com] that Jesus ministered by both Word and Spirit. He shared a Bible story from Luke 4:31-37:  “ Then Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught there in the synagogue every Sabbath day. 32 There, too, the people were amazed at his teaching, for he spoke with authority.

33 Once when he was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—cried out, shouting, 34 “Go away! Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further.  36 Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” 37 The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region.”

Nickens shares that Jesus taught the word, and acted in the Spirit in the same gathering. He says that “Jesus most often began his ministry events and then operated according to his observations as to what his Father was doing in that given moment.  Notice that response of the crowd after they witnessed the demonized man delivered. [They] said, ‘What authority and power this man’s words possess! Or, more clearly in the World English Bible, “What IS this word?This word “was the declaration and exhortation of the written word of God.  [It] literally agitated and activated the spirit realm.  Jesus did not teach a series on family living, he declared the Word of God.  This kind of example of Word and Spirit is the key that unlocks the kingdom of heaven in our midst.  [It also unlocks] the supernatural realm around us.” [brianknickens.com/word-and-spirit]

Nickens also shares that there are many Spirit people who don’t realize the journey that Bethel Redding has gone through to reach revival.  He says, “so many are reading the books, speaking the language and singing the songs of Bethel; while at the same time, [they] fail to see the big picture as to how they got there.  So many try to attach the bells and whistles of this movement to their ministry.”  [Nickens – website as prev noted]

They may expect the same result, but they won’t get it.  There is no shortcut to excellence, so there is no shortcut to revival either.   Nickens says, “you have to labour in the Word. If you trace the Bethel Redding journey, you will discover [that] it is a journey through the Word of God into the realm of the Spirit.  When … [scripture teaching] results in a move of the Spirit, Bill [Johnson] is never in a hurry to move out of that moment.  That is Revival at its core.”  [Nickens – website as prev noted]

Amos Yong is a Fuller Seminary professor. He reviewed RT Kendall’s book co-authored with Paul Cain.  Cain was to represent the Spirit side of the church, and RT the word side, and yet both were hungry for the other side. Cain encouraged Spirit people to get into scripture, and RT encouraged Word people to embrace the Holy Spirit, while having a biblical base.  Some critics had and still have a problem of using both, despite examples of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  Amos Yong got to the heart of the matter. He said that “the problem is [in] how to understand the Word and the Spirit as both distinct and independent on the one hand, and yet mutually related and interdependent on the other.”[Amos Yong, “Between two extremes: Balancing Word Christianity and Spirit Christianity: A Review Essay (of a Paul Cain-RT Kendall book) Feb 25, 2000]

There is no either or.  Why choose when you can have both?  Bill Jackson was a writer and Vineyard pastor in various locations. He wrote the book Quest for the Radical Middle, that I mentioned earlier. He and the then Vineyard attempted to combine evangelical Word-based faith, with the Holy Spirit. This was called “empowered evangelicalism or the Third Wave movement.  It included the Vineyard, the Anglican Mission, Soul Survivor, Acts 29, and Canada’s Anglican Renewal Ministries, or ARM Canada.  [paraphrase from radicalmiddleministries.org] I was the secretary and later bookkeeper for ARM Canada, so I was blessed to partake of the Third Wave through the Vineyard, ARM Canada, and the daughter of the Vineyard, Catch the Fire. This became part of my culture, in my own search for the radical middle.  Surprisingly many Word Christians think this middle is actually the extreme.  Yet if you don’t utilize BOTH Word and Spirit, you ARE NOT in the middle at all.

Bill Jackson’s son, who now runs his ministry, notes on their website a beautiful rendition of what is the centre of the river.  He says, “the ‘radical middle’ is the beautiful intersection of the Word and the Spirit.  As empowered evangelicals, we are grounded in the Word of God, while listening to the Spirit of God, as he leads us into mission.  Radical middle people want to be about both the Word and the works of Jesus.  Jesus both proclaimed the reality of the kingdom of God and demonstrated the power of the kingdom.  Our call is to go and do likewise.”  When Word and Spirit converge, there is action and power.

I discovered a suburban Durban church called City Hill, that includes itself in the radical middle.  This is what they say this is: “One could argue that the wheel is one of man’s best inventions. A bicycle wheel, for example, is a brilliant piece of engineering. From the centre of the wheel radiates spokes that support the tyre which rotates and propels the bike forward. If the centre of the wheel is slightly to the left or right or just a little too high or low, the spokes would not be equal lengths and the tyre would not be perfectly round and it would not function the way a wheel should. Are the spokes important? Yes! Is the tyre necessary? Yes! But they would all be redundant without that all-important middle which forms an inherent part of the wheel. The centre is radical!”  The centre is Jesus, who used both Scripture and Holy Spirit. [Bonny Dales, Culture Magazine, Issue 31, from here.

If Jesus is the centre, what does this look like in our lives?   How do we live that out? RT Kendall believes that many forget God’s sovereignty.  They say, “Lord, increase my faith, help my unbelief.”  So, ask God for mercy. You never outgrow the need for mercy. RT shared at our Harvest School that we need to remember the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. We need to respect this.  We also need to remember the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit. It’s too easy to grieve God.  Listen to Ephesians 4:30-31: “Do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

The chief way we grieve the Spirit is by bitterness. This could be pointing the finger at someone else, losing your temper or road rage. But if you ask Holy Spirit to help you to overcome these, he will give you joy, peace and authenticity.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t be angry – just not vent it in a sinful way.  David took his anger to the Lord in Psalm 69. Mercy tempers anger and cools it right down, which is why we don’t outgrow the need for mercy.   If you do grieve the Spirit, you don’t lose your faith, but you can lose your sense of his presence.  So our job is to be quick to repent.  Imagine if the ungrieved Holy Spirit filled ALL of us.  No one would take offence at mistakes. There would be no bitterness and nothing to prove. This is a beautiful part of being in the middle of the river.

When you have no offence or bitterness in your heart, you can walk with integrity. This is in balance between Word and Spirit.  It becomes easier to HEAR his voice.  Ask God his opinion on the attitudes you have. Work on not grieving Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit is like a dove, gentle, untrained and wild.  Pigeons on the other hand are angry birds, that can be trained. Too often we’re like the pigeons that squawk and hurt each other.

The Spirit and Word also converge in surprises.  Allow Holy Spirit to surprise you.  This is where specific nudges come in, based on Jesus’ words to love our neighbours.  The NOW aspect is the Holy Spirit’s timing. This is just like Peter and John with the beggar at Gate Beautiful. It’s like Heidi Baker with stopping for the one. It’s like Matteus van der Steen with stopping the car to reach out to two specific Ugandan street children.  God’s plans are wonderful, as are the specific assignments he gives us. When we walk in that middle, we are in just the right spot to hear God.  So watch your heart, and don’t choose any sides.  Just look up and keep your focus on the Lord.

If we, as Christians, are to fulfill our calls, we are to be a people of love, power, morality, truth, justice and equality.  We are to be an example of how to live: in love, peace and unity with each other. We are also to manifest God’s glory and power.  When we fulfill this purpose, we become the people of the radical middle; as a conscience to our nations, and a living testimony that points to God.

Bert Farias from Charisma Magazine notes that this radical middle is a stance that God often takes in scripture. He doesn’t take sides. One example of this is when Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho and his eyes are opened to see the Captain of the Lord’s army.  The  captain follows the Lord’s command, not Joshua’s.  Joshua 5:13-14 shares, “When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”  14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”  So Farias advises, “let us not take sides, but let us move according to the Lord’s command.” [Bart Farias, “The Church must move from the Right Wing and Left Wing into the Radical Middle” Charisma magazine.

Let’s pray. Lord, open our hearts to be at the centre between Word and Spirit.  Take away any bitterness, and offence we may have against others.  We forgive those who have hurt us, and ask for you to heal and soften our hearts.  We want to walk to hear your voice, experience your joy and be at peace as we love others through you.  Bring us to balance and show us mercy, as you transform our character.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on the Coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the listen drop-down menu).  Click here  and scroll down to #56!

If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!

For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I’m now about to have a preliminary scan before 16 radiotherapy sessions in Cape Town.  My oncologist believes this may be the last major step of beating the cancer, so it doesn’t return.  I’m also in MLD and compression therapy for lymphedema (also known as lymphoedema), which is swelling of the lymphatic system.  While we explored that this condition was a side result of the mastectomy, I actually had primary lymphedema in my legs since 2006.  It’s time it’s dealt with.  Click here to the medical campaign page for info! 

Blessings to all,
Laurie-Ann Copple

 

Learning the balance between Word and Spirit

 

“Worshipping Family” by Laurie-Ann Zachar Copple

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During the last two articles, we learned some of the different ways we hear God’s voice.  We discovered that when we seek God in the secret place, we do this from a place of intimacy.  The secret place, or our prayer closet, is our special place we go and pray.  Your prayer closet can be an actual small place like a cabin in the woods or in the desert.  It can be in a quiet room in your home.  When we are intimate with God, we hear his voice.   In John 3:10, Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice.  We are his sheep. We need to stop and listen. When you do, you’ll be surprised by his answer.  He loves to speak to us.

Mark Virkler also shares about the importance of learning to tune into the spontaneous thought flow that comes from the Holy Spirit [Four Keys to hearing God’s Voice]. After you quiet yourself down, you tune in, and focus entirely on Jesus. What comes next is a two-way conversation. It’s important to set aside the desires in your heart that threaten to consume you.  They get in the way and you won’t hear God clearly. If you don’t set these aside, you’ll get a distorted word that is a mix of your desire, and what you think is God.  You need to set aside these things and allow God to whisper to your heart about who he really is.  And so, it’s about a personal encounter with him that continues as you press in for more.

We also discovered four major prophetic personalities, and learned from some real people who teach and share at Bethel Church in Redding, California.  It was from part seven of Bethel’s Prophetic Personalities course, which is online at Bethel.TV.  We learned that the primary four ways of the prophetic are: hearing, knowing, seeing and feeling. Sometimes when people supernaturally receive in these ways, it may seem strange to people who haven’t yet opened the eyes of their hearts to God.  Yet, they still hear God through his written word: the Bible.  They may hear in common sense, or when people pray together.  Some Christians tend to lean toward the Holy Spirit side of the church, while others are on the Word side of the church.  Both ways are very important.  You can’t separate them from each other, and yet in many places, this is exactly what has happened.

RT Kendall is a renowned preacher and teacher who ministered at Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He’s written many books. He is a balanced voice speaking to both Word and Spirit churches.  He was one of our teachers at Harvest School in 2016.  His teaching impacted me in two ways.  One was on total forgiveness, which will we share about in another article.  The other was about the battle that goes on between “Word” Christians and “Spirit” Christians.  He said that we need to address the “silent divorce that has happened between Word people and Spirit people.  It’s like we are children in a family going through divorce.  Some children go with one parent, others go with the second parent. But when you keep a balance with BOTH, it is honouring God in spirit and in truth.”  [RT Kendall, personal notes from Harvest School 24].  RT believes that there is a new reformation coming of Word and Spirit together. If only the two halves would reconcile!  We need each other.   I believe that RT Kendall is right.  When we are out of balance, either one way or the other, we become arrogant and grieve the Holy Spirit.

Danny Silk is a teacher-pastor in Bethel Church.  He shares in his book Building a Culture of Honour,   that “when we focus solely on the Word, eventually we begin to fight amongst ourselves over the Word.  We begin to pull apart the Body of Christ because there is a right and a wrong.  Each teacher is compelled to be right.” That is ultimate division. What then is the role of the teacher in the church if it is not to prove that Christians are right to believe what they believe?  If teachers play their true role in the church, they will first have to be willing to pursue a supernatural lifestyle.  They will have to be dissatisfied with the armour of their arguments and the lifelessness of their theology.” They will need to increase their courage to risk and be unable to answer all the questions of their world. Teachers must embrace mystery.Basically, Danny Silk is saying that theology without the Holy Spirit is dead. After all, it is the Holy Spirit who was the author of the Bible through human writers.  He then encourages teachers to teach in line with having a supernatural component.  He likened Jesus as taking “show and tell” to a whole new level. “When Jesus taught a crowd about the Kingdom of Heaven, He always showed them the Kingdom.  His disciples were in a never-ending classroom experience.”  This is probably why churches that have both Word and Spirit include an activation session on what they are learning, rather than just learn theory and scripture.  The Holy Spirit helps you become active in your faith.  The Bible helps you become more stable in your faith.

One truth, that was taught to me early in my Christian life, was shared often by David Mainse. David was a Canadian pastor who founded Crossroads Communications, including the TV show “One-Hundred Huntley Street.”  Back in the 1970’s, the studio was located on Huntley Street, which is in downtown Toronto.  Nearly twenty years later, they moved west to Burlington, to a larger space.  They have continued to grow under the leadership of David’s son Ron since then.  David died in 2017.  While David was alive, he always spoke with such kindness and wisdom. One day, he shared on a broadcast about the importance of having balance as you grow in your faith.  If you don’t have the Holy Spirit in your life, you DRY up.  You burn out.  If you don’t have the Word, the Bible in your life, you BLOW up.  Yet when you receive from both the Word and Spirit together, you GROW up.  Of course, this statement is often preached by many, but I heard it first from him. It impacted both me and my mother.

When I came to faith, I wasn’t very biblically literate. Therefore, it was important for me to get a foundation in the Bible as soon as possible.  What I read was eye-opening.  I grew up in a liberal church, where only part of the Bible was shared.  This contributed to my Biblical illiteracy. However, I have to admit that I did have a Bible, and I could have read it if I could get past the archaic language of the King James Version. I was then drawn to a different church that was biblically literate. While they were not charismatic, they were open to the possibility of the Holy Spirit touching people’s lives. They were open to new enthusiasm for Jesus, and a renewed fire for getting into the Word of God.  So this Word congregation decided to invite the Father of the Charismatic movement, Canon Dennis Bennett, to come speak at their church.  Dennis was an Episcopalian priest who spoke on the Holy Spirit at the very beginning of the charismatic movement in the American mainline church.

At the time, even though I attended church, I wasn’t yet a Christian.  I was drawn to the supernatural, but since I wasn’t Biblically literate, I became involved in the occult, which is forbidden in the Bible. The practices of fortune-telling, tarot cards, and all the things that I became good at was actually a counterfeit of the genuine prophetic gifting that comes from God.  The source was wrong, but I didn’t know that at the time. This was one of the things I learned very quickly through Dennis.  He was a breath of fresh air at a Word church. Many were impacted, and the conference drew people from different denominations.  I came to faith the first night of the conference. That night, Dennis said in the middle of his talk that you have to make a choice, and not mix your spirituality.  Too many people pragmatically mix different aspects of various religions to make up their own.  This is a common tactic of seekers and New Agers.  But since Christianity and Judaism serve and love a Holy God, we must leave all other forms of spirituality behind.  Dennis said, “you can’t be a Christian and a New Ager too.  If you’re anything other than Jewish or Christian, then this is something you walk away from.” [paraphrase of Dennis Bennett at “Spirit of Promise conference, Kingsway Baptist Church, Etobicoke, April 1988]

Dennis really got my attention!  I thought I was both a New Ager and a Christian.  So I made a choice that night.  The Holy Spirit had already spoken to my heart six months previously about finding God.  I somehow knew that he meant Jesus, and this was the time.  When Dennis led the prayer of renouncing other faiths and spirituality, I prayed that prayer.  The following morning, I then learned that all the stuff I had been in before was completely from the wrong source.  There was no neutral spirituality. Dennis told us, “after the fall of man, Satan set up the psychic world.”  That was another mind-blower.  Patricia King often shares that the seekers and New Agers are adventurous about their experience, which is good, but what matters is about their source. [Generalized comment based on many Patricia King conferences and books] If the source is anything other than God, it’s not from him; not at all.  When Holy Spirit spoke to me about finding God, there was a completely different feel behind the voice.  The voice was pure holy love, which washed over me like a waterfall.  While I had previously experienced spiritual euphoria, it was tiny and flat compared to the deep, deep love from God.  Of course I wanted more – and this hunger drew me to find that conference.

I’m sure that this church didn’t realize that when they planned for this conference, they would receive some people who would come to faith right there and then.  Once I was there, I needed to learn the Bible, and foundational teaching. I asked for someone to disciple me.  I chose a Christian counsellor who was involved at the church. She and others helped me to grow in the Bible as well as in other ways.  I desperately needed a foundation of Biblical understanding.  At the same time, I was also hungry for the Holy Spirit. I eventually found what was then the local Vineyard congregation. I found that I could attend both, since the Vineyard met in the afternoon.  Five years later, my second church became the very epicentre of the Toronto Blessing. I was there at an amazing time. But, I still needed both Word and Spirit to grow. I was so spiritually hungry that I needed to receive at more than one church.

Three years before Tony and I became long-term missionaries, I became hungry again. I became involved in three churches – one liturgical, one Pentecostal, and one very charismatic.   Since I tend towards being a “Spirit” person, I needed that foundation that I received in the Baptist “Word” church.   Years later, I also needed the liturgical structure and history to give me a good framework to express both Word and Spirit together. But that realization goes beyond the balance of Word and Spirit to the idea of a three-legged stool.  We’ll share about that model in another article (I just have to think on that some more, other than dive into Cursillo teaching).

So how does the Holy Spirit nurture us?   Imagine the Holy Spirit like one who pours out the love of God in a watering can.  He’s the one who convicts us of sin, and the most important truth that we need God.  Matteus van der Steen shares about the Holy Spirit in his book Dare to Dream.  He was another of our teachers at Harvest School alongside RT Kendall.  He shares that in the affluent West, many people think they have everything. They think that they are God and can do everything without the help of anyone else. They do not believe that God is Almighty, and that it is he who created us. [Matteus van der Steen, “Make Space for the Holy Spirit” – Dare to Dream]  This is in contrast in some third-world countries. “The acknowledgement of God is wide-spread, because prosperity has not destroyed their need for Him.”   For the west, it will take the Holy Spirit to help people realize there is a God and that they need him.  So these people need to have the same encounter I had with Holy Spirit, as he spoke to my heart that it was time to find God. It just made sense.  Holy Spirit also gives us dreams from the very heart of God for our lives. When we connect with them, and spend time with God, he transforms our hearts, and we begin to become more like what we were meant to be.  We become more like our true identity as a child of God.

The Holy Spirit gives us that confirmation that we are children of God. The Living Bible version of Romans 8:16 shares, “For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts, and tells us that we really are God’s children.”  Sometimes, it takes time for this to sink into our hearts, past all our hurts and defences.  This is a classic example of Word and Spirit working together.  Even the Word people would have to agree.

Spirit people also need to learn that the Holy Spirit helps us realize the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. When we come to faith, we are awakened to the things of God.  In time, we are also anointed and prepared to carry out the tasks that God gives each of us to do.  Some tasks are the same, others different.  God has you grow in anointing of the Holy Spirit, and in understanding of the Word. Yet, you also need to work on improving your character.  Character is another aspect that must be in balance with the anointing in your life. Character includes obedience, integrity, faithfulness, and so many godly virtues that are displayed in the fruit of the Spirit.   The Holy Spirit gives them. He teaches about them through Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-23:  The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Self-control is developed as part of our character, as something at the core of our wills.   It is impossible to achieve this in your own power. It does require our constant consent to lay down our tendency to either get out of control, or have too much control.  So, you also can’t fake these virtues. They are grown in you.  If you fake it by just using the Word, you become a religious hypocrite; just acting a role.  If you genuinely grow, you are utilizing both word and Spirit.

Van der Steen shares, “God is more interested in developing your character, which must be in balance with the anointing on your life.  This is why God will use the Holy Spirit to convict you of things that you do, that are not in line with His Word.”  So, give the Holy Spirit permission, and the opportunity to convict you of everything that is not right in your life. That is, things that which cannot be tolerated by daylight. Let your character be formed by Him.” [Matteus van der Steen, “Make Space for the Holy Spirit” – Dare to Dream]

RT Kendall goes further when he speaks about growing character.  He shared at Harvest School that “we need to work in the Word, to actively read it, pray it and think on it.  Too often Spirit people want a rhema, or (Holy Spirit) word, because it is quick and we are lazy.  We are living in a day when many people don’t read their Bibles.  Many leaders only turn to the Bible for a sermon!”   You also need a Bible reading plan, rather reading the Bible sporadically. It’s not Bible roulette.  If you chase after a rhema word, you’ll never get it. [RT Kendall – notes from Harvest School 24, June 15, 2016].   If you go after scripture, God will give you the very word you need while you read the Bible.  The words will leap off the page into your heart.

Kendall continued to encourage and admonish the mostly “Spirit” people who were at our Harvest school.  He gave us examples of what happens when Word and Spirit are acting together in Scripture.  One is that integrity is central.  Jeremiah 29:11 is God’s plan for everyone.  God always has a plan not to harm us. But we must resist temptation, especially of the sexual kind.  Remember the temptation that Joseph encountered in Genesis chapter 39, when he worked for Potiphar? His employer’s wife kept pestering him to go to bed with her. Kendall said that 75 percent of Christian servants fall due to this very same temptation. But Joseph did not. Kendall also warned Spirit people not to say, “The Lord told me.” when we share words we have received.  Our personal devotions aren’t scripture, and we aren’t Old Testament prophets. “What’s your motive in couching your word of knowledge in that way?  Is it to make you look good?  No, far better to say “I believe the Lord may be saying.”  This is again about character.  Word and Spirit work together to transform our character.     And what happens when the Word and Spirit are together?  God causes something special to happen that’s almost explosive.  Van der Steen shared of it in an example from a mission trip in Uganda.  RT Kendall shared of something similar in Acts chapter 3, when Peter and John meet a beggar by Jerusalem’s Beautiful Gate.  Both had a “now moment” that only happens when you walk in integrity and the special timing of the Holy Spirit. Something beautiful happened with the beggar, and he was healed.

Van der Steen’s sharing takes us to the streets of Kampala, Uganda. Matteus had a word of knowledge to help two specific orphans. One became a great student, whose life was radically changed.  The other went back to the streets. While some thought his attempt to love them a waste of time, he shared these words, “I believe that we were right to stop the car and share God’s love with these boys. Did I fast, pray, and ask for permission from my leaders before stopping to talk to them on the street that day?  No!  I simply chose to be obedient to God‘s leading. “Yes,” you may ask, but “what would have happened if it wasn’t the Holy Spirit that you heard?”  Well, even if it was my own idea, it was still Jesus’ heart. If you read Matthew 25, you will see that you don’t need special guidance from God to take care of orphans and widows.”  [Matteus van der Steen, “Make Space for the Holy Spirit” – Dare to Dream]  So we see here a perfect convergence of word and Spirit, as well as the purity of heart and integrity to recognize a special moment when God wants to do something.

We’ll discover more about this wonderful convergence, through more of RT Kendall in our next article.  But for now, think on this example from the Holy Ghost movie.  Jamie Galloway and Will Hart are on the streets of Salt Lake City ministering to seekers, by praying for them and introducing them to Holy Spirit.  They gently interacted with people with kindness and compassion, and showed them that God cared about them. Their method was by actively showing that God is real and loving by the action of the Holy Spirit.  Will and Jamie are Spirit People, but they are also biblically based.  They met an evangelist who stood outside the Salt Lake Temple. This man was almost entirely Word based. He used this method for reaching Mormons: that of sharing truth and scripture.  We watched him calling out to people in the temple that Jesus and Lucifer were NOT brothers. He cried that this was “such heresy!”  Then the three men meet up, as well as the Word evangelist’s wife.  The evangelist decries the mistakes and near arrogance of some Spirit people. But in the end, he allows Jamie and Will to pray for him.  He asks for more of the Holy Spirit in his preaching, and for the Word to come alive. All agree that we need the Holy Spirit.  When these three prayed together, it was indeed a special moment.  The movie creator, Darren Wilson, narrates at that moment that both ways were important in faith and outreach; Word and Spirit, and that it is explosive when they are used together.   Do we want to be in the centre of that convergence?  I know I do.

If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God podcast page on the Coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the listen area).  Click here and scroll down to #55.

If you’ve been blessed by this article, please let us know.

For those looking for news on my cancer journey, it looks like the surgeon got excellent margins on my mastectomy.  I’m still in recovery mode.  We’re not sure whether I need radiation therapy or not.  At this point, we are trying MLD therapy for lymphodema.  Click here to the medical campaign page for info!

Blessings to all,
Laurie-Ann Copple

Growing in God: Growing through humility part 2

My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA.  I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.

During the last article, we journeyed through what humility is.  It’s elusive if you seek it in your own strength, but necessary to promotion and receiving honour.  CS Lewis said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.  Self-focus and self-effort only bring the very opposite of humility, even if your prime focus is to BE humble.  That brings you to religious pride, which can be a very dangerous counterfeit to true humility.  For those looking for authentic faith, this is a definite turn-off for many seekers who want to come to church.   True humility is not entitlement or selfishness in any way.  Again, that points to pride, in thinking you deserve something much more than someone else does.

Last year, I discovered a novel series about Andrew Murray, a 19th century dominee who was part of the Cape Awakening in the 1860s. He wrote a lot of wonderful books that are still available today.  He struggled with pride and self-sufficiency and learned the way of surrender and humility.  The novel writer, Olea Nel, shares about Andrew’s life in Graaf Reinet, Bloemfontein, and will eventually get to his time in Worcester.  In her third novel, she shares about a religious elder called Venter.  Venter was a “proud, psalm-singing Dopper, originally from the Northern Cape.  “Doppers,” he was told, “do not strut about showing their newest wears. That’s pride on display and against the Bible’s teaching.  No, Dominee, Doppers strive to be humble.”  [Andrew] had smiled inwardly at this retort because, contrary to his assertion of being humble, he wore his threadbare jacket with great pride.”  [He] couldn’t help thinking how appropriate the nickname Dopper was.  They were like candle snuffs, always snuffing out what they regarded to be novelties.” They didn’t like the ‘new’ hymns of the church, but sang from the book of Psalms. [Someone explained to Murray] that for the Doppers to feel free to sing hymns, they required marginal notes to be included alongside the verses, in the same fashion as they appeared opposite the Psalms in the old Staten Bybel of 1637.”   It is very easy in the struggle to be humble to fall into its counterfeit – false humility and religious pride.  Ultimately, this not only is anti-humble, but it is anti-Holy Spirit.  It would seek to shut down anything new that the Holy Spirit may want to introduce.

So what are the stumbling steps to humility?  Some blocks are subtle, like self-effort and self-focus. Other blocks include pride, ambition, arrogance, and offence.  Sometimes we forget who we are in the context of God and the world. Downton Abbey fans can imagine Mrs. Hughes asking an out of turn maid, “who do you think you are?”  But it’s true.  Who do we think we are?  Self-made people who run in circles and smugly smile and look down on others?  People who denigrate ourselves in self-hated?  I attended two Pastoral Care Ministry Schools with Leanne Payne in the 1990’s.  At one of these schools, Leanne shared that self-hatred is actually a form of pride.  It’s considering yourself worthless, when Jesus chose to die for you.  He sees you of infinite worth, and worth saving.   So we will journey through pride.

Ah, pride. The very worst of the seven deadly sins: it’s deep and devious.  It’s also the sin that caused Lucifer to fall from heaven.   And it’s the one that we must give up first to come to faith, since pride holds you back from receiving what you need most: God’s love.  The strongest scripture about that is one that the song “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord” is about.  This passage was written by Jesus’ half-brother, James, the head of the Jerusalem church.  Listen to his words from James 4:14-16:  “As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

This scripture is not against laughter and joy, but rather not to let these be tainted by pride.  This is about repentance, after all. Pride is like poison that ruins everything it touches.  Is it any wonder that God hates it.  Proverbs 11 notes that “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility, comes wisdom.”  Proverbs 16:18 states this in even stronger terms: “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”   One example of this is the story of the Prodigal Son.  In Luke 15, the younger son wanted his inheritance early. He went off and squandered it.  He thought he was better than his dad and wanted his own way.  But after he was reduced to extreme poverty, where he was forced to eat pig food, he came to his senses, and returned home.   Like this prodigal, we also can be given the grace to return home as a loved child, not as a servant.

We also need to turn away from selfish ambition and pride.  Jon Bloom shares that selfish ambition is a sin that always seems to be “crouching at the door” as it did with Cain in Genesis 4:7.  This was the motivation that caused the first murder.  Bloom shares that “it contaminates our motives for doing just about anything.” It even shows up in a holy moment like the Last Supper, as it did for Judas in Luke chapter 22.  But Luke also shows us how Jesus frees us from the suicidal slavery of selfish ambition.   Bloom shares that Jesus’s final meal before the cross was perhaps the most ironic time the Twelve debated over who was the greatest.  Jesus was and is the greatest human being who would ever walk the earth, the Founder and Perfecter of their faith.” Yet, He shared dinner with them.  He was the only one in the room without sin.  He washed their feet, he served them, instituted the new Passover of communion, and he loved them.   Bloom shares that “this was no time for any disciple to assert his own greatness, except the greatness of his sin. What’s more ironic is what ignited the debate. Jesus had just revealed that one of them that very night would willingly participate in the most spectacular sin in history: the slaughter of the Son of God. And yet somehow the introspection and inquiry that followed ended up in a competition over who was greatest.”   What a contrast!

I’ve even read of examples from Heidi Baker, one of the most humble people I’ve ever met.  But even she has had moments.  During the conference season of several years, she heard other speakers whose style featured what she called “notes and quotes.” She was temporarily swayed twice to adopt that style, since she was smart enough to wow the audience with just as much intelligence.  However, both times she was stopped from sharing in this way.

The first time, she was glued to the floor by the Holy Spirit in front of the bookstore.  She just wanted to go into the store and buy the right books, speed read them and share that way.  She wasn’t allowed to, and instead when it was time, shared what the Holy Spirit wanted her to share – something deeply profound that often bypasses the mind, right to the heart.  The second time it happened, she managed to prepare a talk, using a pastor’s library.  But then she again was glued to the floor, and had to be carried onto the stage.  And her talk notes were spread everywhere.  She became a fool, and then was used to deliver the message that she was given, when she let go of her pride to receive it.

Sometimes we can be caught up in a blinding power of pride that can slip in when we’re not expecting it.  In Heidi’s example, it was when she compared herself to the other speakers. One of my Ottawa pastors, Shawn Gabie, says that “Comparison is a calling killer.”  It blinds you to your own calling, your own style, and your own message – that very message that the Holy Spirit puts in you to share.   Our friend and colleague Mella often says that we need what the Holy Spirit says through each other.  So in my case, you are receiving counsel from the Lord with the flavour of Laurie-Ann.  Other times, it’s with the flavour of Tony.  But always remember who is really speaking.  We don’t always recognize it until stops us and pierces our hearts.  Don’t be preoccupied with your own place of prominence in what God will do, or be distracted by the style of another ministry.

One prophetic worship leader has a beautiful ministry in poetry and dreams.  Her name is Julie Meyer.  She has several words on humility, and a dream on judgement, some of which is already happening.  Leaders in the church have been exposed of their secret sins, politicians are exposed in secret scandal.  This is all part of rivers of righteousness bringing justice, despite the world growing cold and ultra-liberal in other ways.    Julie shares, she believes “the eyes of the Lord are searching for those who embody and embrace humility.  Even in the conference world, you come into contact with great pride.” She says that the Lord is “really looking for those that delight in the lowest places.”  She had a dream, that made her excited.  She saw the Lord just take the Body [of Christ] and knead it like dough. If you’re the dough, it doesn’t look fun. But his eyes were always very joyful. In the dream he said, “Those who are at the front, I’m sending to the back; so they can learn with GREAT joy, [and] how to have delight at the end of the line.

Then he said, those at the back, I’m going to move to the front, because I want them to learn to embrace humility.  There are those at the front of the line that live their lives in the greatest of humility.  Their position will not be touched.  There are those at the back of the line that live their lives in great pride and ambition. This is not good. Their position would not be touched.  He said that those who feel that they are irreplaceable, will be the first ones replaced.  I tell you, because his eyes are searching for righteousness. The church right now does not look any different from the world.   [Yet] he is stirring the sound of an abundance of rain.    With every raindrop that falls to the earth, the Lord is saying, I’m giving you grace upon grace.  What he said was this, ‘it’s not like you have to climb the mountain of holiness in one day.

But he said, ‘do this. It’s day by day, step by step, choice by choice, and yes by yes.  It’s one day at a time, one step at a time, one choice at a time, one yes at a time. What that means, I just that this knowing, because I don’t know that I can live totally holy the rest of the week. It’s my heart, but I do know that my next choice today can be a yes for God.  And I do know that even that after that choice, I can make another choice that’s a yes for God.  In this dream, it was so awesome, because he said, ‘If you live this simple rule, day by day, the things that tripped you up yesterday, you will tread upon tomorrow.   He wants us to pray.  As much as you want to defend,  it is a time to go low, because it’s going to happen, so go low and pray.   We [must] pray and really press into the Lord, without offense. It’s time for us to be without offense and absolutely love and passionately position ourselves at the end of the line and learn great delight there.  We can have great delight at the back of the line, in the lowest places, because that’s how Jesus Christ lived; and that’s how he wants us to live.  I believe that we’re in for the best of times and the worst of times.   I believe that he is speaking clearer than he has spoken before.  I want to go low, I want to love back.  I want to encounter him, and we need to go low and pray.”

Julie shares another of her dreams in a song.   This dream showed an encounter of heaven, similar to what the Apostle John had in the book of Revelation.  In this context, Julie saw a coming fire and water visitation where we need to go low.  Going low means humility, but in the context of this dream, holiness and justice came like judgement from heaven to earth.  It’s too easy to fall by our own pride and selfishness, and point at others who are being exposed in scandal, whether in politics, the church or in the secular world. This isn’t about fear, but about humility.   At the core of the dream Julie shares, “I saw people looking up at this wick burning and coming to planet earth.  I saw people fall face down.  I saw people go low. But the people that remained standing were burnt like coal.  I kept asking, why?  I kept hearing ‘go low, go low.’ Humility. Pray.  As justice rolls, go low. Go low.  The angel is sent with a message, and all the people of God humble themselves and pray.  Go low so as not to be consumed.”   Wow. How important it is to remember that we can easily fall, but for the grace of God.

Arrogance also stumbles our walk into humility.  Tony and I learned about this when we attended Harvest School.  Most people recoil away from arrogance, usually by anger and self-defence.  Arrogance can show as racism, anger and snobbery. It’s ugly, and grieves the Holy Spirit.  One of the Harvest School speakers was RT Kendall, who is very wise. There were two of his talks that hit home.  One was on absolute forgiveness. The other was on a balance of Word and Spirit, where he talks on the division in the church between charismatics and Bible based believers.  We need to be both so we grow well.  But in this context, he shared how we need to be like doves, gentle and humble.

Yet many of us are like angry pigeons.  Pigeons are a nuisance.  Yet the only difference between doves and pigeons is their temperament.  Physically they are exactly the same bird. The Holy Spirit has been depicted in scripture as like a gentle dove, and when Jesus was baptized, he sat on Jesus’ shoulder in that form.  Kendall shared that the Holy Spirit wants to do that with us as well, but any sign of arrogance, pride, and the like grieves him, and he distances himself.   So when we become more humble, the Holy Spirit’s presence is more evident in our lives.

We need to journey past offence, or even better, don’t take offence at all. RT Kendall spoke about forgiveness, which is essential in getting past offence. But you can consciously choose not to be offended in the first place.  Going low is not just humility. It’s also refusing to be offended.  Patricia King calls this choice taking our place in a “love war,” where the love of God within you is being tested.  Some people really do press all our buttons, and get us upset.  Their brokenness provides evil forces to use them to test you.  But the key to stop that threat is love in humility.   And the action of humility is service.

So we journey into servanthood like Jesus.  Jesus taught us that if you want to be great, you must be the servant of all.  The kingdom is opposite to the world – the first becomes last, and the last becomes the greatest.  This service and humility is not a one-off thing that we muster for in our own strength.  That’s not humility.  That’s religion.   I recently began reading a book in preparation of our upcoming home visit to Canada.  It is called “Re-Entry – Making the Transition from Missions to a Life at Home” by Peter Jordan.  It was about the reverse culture shock returning missionaries feel, but it was also about the danger of not using your mission work as a badge of honour.  This false badge would be used to be served rather than to serve.  Jordan says that “A returning missionary should come home humble, not haughty. If your experience on the mission field has matured you, it should work itself out in your life through more patience and less criticism. Beware of criticizing your church. One of the best ways to make the adjustment back to life in the local church is through being a servant. Christ took on the form of a servant.  The meaning of the words in the original Greek make it very clear that Christ did not come into the world pretending to be a servant, or as an actor acting out the role of a servant.  Rather, He WAS a servant.”  Servanthood is the model [that] God wants [us] to follow.”

Humility is the core of remembering who Jesus is and who we are.  We are not worms to be stepped on, but we are also not equal partners with God.  Heidi Baker shares from “Living from the Presence,” that we need God, the great I AM; not an equal partner.  We need Somebody who can absolutely fix us, the One who has control, who can change hearts, finish what He began in us, and is able to present us before the throne without fault with great joy in His presence.  We need Almighty God; the one we depend on every day in Africa.  Without Him, we could never exist with all the crises we encounter.

When we press into God’s Presence seeking intimacy with Him, if we have some seriously wrong ideas about Him, our relationships will be tainted and stymied. … [Our view of him would be distorted and false]  See God for who He is and respond to him accordingly.  This will change everything.”

Humility means active submission, but not grovelling. Humility and submission are partners.  Scripture tells us that we are to submit to one another in lowliness of mind. The Apostle Peter shares in 1 Peter 5: 5-6, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”  When we are submissive and “clothe ourselves with humility” we can create peace and unity with others. We are not to be so proud and high up that we can’t accept correction and constructive criticism. Neither should we be of the mindset that our own opinions and thoughts always are better than the others. Such thinking won’t lead us to spiritual maturity.

At the same time, being submissive and humble does not mean in any way, shape or form that we are to bow down to other people. We are not to be a doormat or to fall into people-pleasing. The Apostle Paul was very clear when he said that we are to serve God and God alone. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:23. “God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world!” He also wrote in Galatians 1:10, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

Humility also does NOT mean lack of self-worth or self-esteem.  Humility gives inner strength.  Lack of self-worth seems more like a bruised, broken and traumatized spirit.  This is something that the Lord can heal as he makes us strong as our identity as a child of God.  Confident and loved children do not put themselves down, yet they are teachable.  It’s important to be submissive in accepting correction, being teachable and not thinking of ourselves as superior, we need to please God with our lives.  This should be our focus: to humble ourselves under God’s will for us; to live to keep his commands, and especially not try to meet human demands and expectations.

Humility does not mean that we are silent, or passive people.  We can serve the Lord with zeal, diligence and be what Paul calls in Romans 12:11, “fervent in spirit in serving the Lord.” This means we use our spiritual gifts, talents and abilities for him. This is done within the context that these gifts are not entirely for our benefit.  God desires to be able to use us to his glory and purpose.  Nellie Owens shares that “humility is that we use our talents and capabilities under God’s direction and leading. We need to give him the honour and glory for all that is accomplished in and through our lives.  He uses our actions, works and even our story to impact lives.  1 Peter 4:10-11 shares:   “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”

And finally, humility is the key to progress in your spiritual walk.  It’s the key to promotion.  At the same time, it can be a key to progress in employment.  What employer trusts a prideful employee?  Humility opens doors to learning lessons without pain.  Humility opens the door to honour.  Proverbs 15:33 shares that the “fear of the Lord teaches wisdom [and] humility precedes honour.  And so this is the same humility that Jesus shows in Philippians 2, as I shared in my last article.

When we allow humility to grow in our hearts, wonderful things happen, even in difficult times.  You are given the grace to overcome. You are given the deepness of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Like RT Kendall’s illustration, the dove will not depart from your shoulder.  Instead of grieving him, you’ve invited him to stay with you.    Nellie Owens shares that if we are of this humble mindset, we will make unbelievable progress in our Christian lives!  God pays very close attention to our hearts, and he’s eager to strengthen those who desire to live for him in this way.  Isaiah chapter 66:1–2 make this point.  “This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  Could you build me a temple as good as that?  Could you build me such a resting place?  My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine.  I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.”

And so the journey into humility requires climbing down.  Imagine going kloofing – hiking into narrow mountain valleys.  The hiking journey gives added strength physically, mentally, and spiritually.  And this journey takes in all that, as well as re-molding you emotionally, volitionally and spiritually.  Your choices become stronger as you choose the low road, which curiously is the highest road of all.   Along the way, you shed pride, selfish ambition, arrogance, offence and self-focus.  And on the path, you discover who you really are and who you are meant to be.  The servant becomes the star.

May the Holy Spirit bless you deeply with true humility, and strength from inside you.  When you are tempted to go the way of pride, remember you have a choice. Choose the best way.

Lord, I ask you to bless each person reading my words – with a deep realization that you have blessed us in so many ways.  Touch our hearts with the realization that you are making a home there.  Your gentle knock is at the door of our hearts.  Lord, we let you in.  Come and spend time with us.  Transform us deep within.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m also continuing cancer treatments here in South Africa.  We return to Canada to resume treatment in April 2020.  If you feel led to learn about L-A’s story and/or to pitch in you can visit our medical campaign page.  You can also send whatever amount you’d like to sow to our Paypal:   https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod

If you’d like to hear this article in audio format read by Laurie-Ann, visit our podcast page  and scroll down to #52.

Enjoy!  Please let me know if this blessed you!

Blessings,
Laurie-Ann Copple