Father Heart of God, Part 1: Life in the Father's House

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In the life of Mosaic at the moment we have been spending time looking at Jesus' revolutionary teaching about Prayer. This has come alongside a season of praying for breakthrough for major issues we've been facing in the body of Christ at this time. The reading below is so much more than a 'How to' manual for prayer as it represents a complete cultural shift in how humans can connect with their creator.  

Matthew 6 v 5 - 9 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy."

 In prayer Jesus compels us to move away from the need to feed our own demand for attention and approval from others or even God. So often we strive from a place of performance – acting out and faking it, feeling like the one who shouts loudest will get the biggest portion. We try to be the one with the most knowledge and skill to win at the competition of life. We revel in the maximum exposure we get from outworking personal ambition. We seek satisfaction in the rewards of outward spirituality. The Bible simply calls this behavior being a hypocrite (ouch!). I call it being caught on the religious hamster wheel.

 Life on the religious hamster wheel is like living with the competitive attitude of the Apprentice, the striving of Bake Off, the cut throat nature of X Factor and the performance mentality of The Voice all rolled into one. It is like dressing up in the glitz and glamour of Strictly Come Dancing yet underneath you know you can’t dance. It is exhausting!

 Life in the Father’s house is different. This passage on prayer helps us see that none of this stuff will cut it when we come to connect with the Father. We don’t have to make ourselves seen, God sees us. We don’t have to earn points, yet God rewards us. We don’t have to beg for it, God knows what we need. We find Satisfaction in the rewards of simply being a child.  The defining factor in how Jesus prayed was not that He used a set structure or formula but that He rooted His prayer life in response to God’s fatherhood.

A few weeks ago at a prayer meeting, a women in our church, Tracy Harding, shared a picture of people begging for bread at the palace gates. She then saw an image of those people being led inside the palace and invited into the throne room to be with the King. What a contrast! She shared that God doesn’t want us to be like those begging at the gates, demanding attention and approval, striving in a place of performance and shouting loudest so we get the biggest portion. This is the behavior of orphans, not of sons. We simply need to receive our invitation to the throne room and come.

Jesus taught us to pray like sons and daughters when He said “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8). How does this concept transform the way you might approach God for your breakthrough today?

 

 

 

Shahkabir's Testimony

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My name is Shahkabir, I am ten years old and I live with my Mother and older brother Jahangir in Coventry. I was born in Pakistan, into a Muslim family. I don't like talking about my early childhood much because it wasn't very nice. My father was not very kind to us, which is why my mother decided to bring us to England.

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Before I used to believe in Allah, and that if I wasn't good I would be punished. We still followed the Muslim faith when we moved to London, it was only after we moved to Coventry that our journey really started. First we came across Hillfields Evangelical Baptist Church. We discovered that they offered a children’s club called “Young Explorers”, and we started going to church on Monday evenings so that my brother and I could attend the kid’s club. We found the Hope Centre, my brother attended the Mosaic Identity youth group, and we met such kind people that we kept going back to Mosaic.

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At church I was able to hear God’s word and the gospel, and the more I heard and read about Jesus, the more my faith increased, and the more I grew to love God, His people, and His word.
This is why I wanted to get baptised - so that I could follow the Lord Jesus, who is my saviour, my father, and my friend."

- Shahkabir

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Sam's Testimony

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My testimony comes down to community, God knew I couldn't do it alone.

I was raised a non-Christian, with only a few early experiences of the church, but nothing like Mosaic. I moved to Coventry 2 years ago for uni, and met Gemma on the very first day. We like to call it a “God-incidence” because since then we've been inseparable. Gemma challenged every preconceived idea I had about Christians. She was nothing like I'd expected her to be. I would ask Gemma questions all night long, even if they were hard to answer. She never judged me and accepted me for who I was. I've always been one for questions, starting with Gemma, then Fiston, and then Jayne and James. We'd have question nights, where I'd throw all my questions at them and they would answer without judgement or doubt. I felt so comfortable and welcome, which encouraged me to keep asking and continue learning.

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I was fortunate that through my job at the time I also met other Christians. My work hosted an event called Sunday Evening Sessions which was run by another church in Coventry. I ended up working at the Sunday Evening Session event, where I heard worship music for the first time.  I remember turning to my colleague and saying how I wish I had something in my life I could be that passionate about. It was through my work that I met the Longden family, who were so kind and welcoming. Jason and Kez showed me that you could be “our age” and still love this God who I didn't yet know - I thought Gemma was the only one!

Meeting all these amazing people prompted me to attend the Good Friday service at Mosaic. I loved the service and watching everyone worship God. I cried that night because I wanted to know God and feel the passion they felt. It was after that service that I started coming to Mosaic on Sunday whenever I could. I did Bible Buddies with Gemma, and continued to learn and grow in my faith. Then over Christmas 2016 I began having what I now know as visions from God, in which a re-lived all my past experiences, but this time I saw God there with me, with His hands on my shoulders, guiding me through.  I saw that I had never been alone. It was then that I gave my life to Christ.

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I have been a Christian for 9 months now, and I am still learning and growing with God. Since then I have completed the Grace Course and another Bible course with Jayne and James Rose. My love for God and my wisdom is ever growing. This year I also had the amazing opportunity to go to Soul Survivor, where I witnessed God doing amazing things both with the youth and with the youth leaders.

I was not only saved by God, but I found a family here in Coventry and I can't wait to see what God has planned for me next. 

-Sam

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Are We There Yet? Breaking Through to The Breaker

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‘Are we there yet?’ are four words that any parent heading to a desired destination will know all to well. Sometimes spoken in fun before getting to the end of the street, other times shouted in frustration when every aspect of the in-car entertainment has been exhausted. Whatever the reason, our children are telling us that they are no longer enjoying the journey and want a speedy arrival at their promised destination.

In this month of September when we’re prayerfully pressing through for God ordained change, I find myself impatiently asking my heavenly father the same question. ‘Are we there yet?’ – I’ve prayed a little, maybe gone without a meal and now I’d like to arrive at that dream destination called, ‘Breakthrough!’ 

But maybe in my haste to get to the destination I’m missing out on a key aspect of the journey!

 Let me explain:

When describing the character of God, an Old Testament prophet called Micah, characterised Him as, ‘the breaker who goes up before [us]’.[1] In this the prophet reminds God’s people that ultimately it is our heavenly father who has the power, ‘To press through and remove all longstanding obstacles that inhibit His ongoing purpose’.[2]

Although my desire for the destination is intense, I need to be reminded that the journey will involve ‘Breaking through to the Breaker’ – that is, spending quality time in the presence of an almighty God.

To find the space and place where I can:

  • Seek a deeper level of spiritual intimacy with my heavenly father
  • Soak in God’s presence
  • Spend time listening rather than talking

For when I bask in the presence of heaven I give my Father the opportunity to ‘quieten me with his love’, to make me feel safe in His embrace, to overwhelm me with His unspeakable joy and surround me with a peace that goes beyond all human understanding.

‘Are we there yet?’ – have we arrived at our desired destination? Well sadly no, there is a way to go yet.  But to avoid spiritual fatigue, we need to punctuate our journey with holy pauses, moments of solitude in which we still ourselves from all other activity and simply soak in God’s presence.[3]

 

For a journey towards the miraculous involves spending quality time in the presence of the miracle-maker.

 

 

- Chris Spicer

 

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References:

[1] Micah 2:13v NASB

[2] The meaning of the biblical word ‘Breakthrough’

[3] Read Isaiah 40:29-31

SPIRIT FILLED LIFE Part 6 - The more of the spirit

We love sharing great stuff online don't we? After all, everyone wants more of what they know to be good. As we start to learn more about the Holy Spirit, it is natural for us to ask how we receive more of the spirit in our lives. We are a generation that always wants more! How do we get more of God? Perhaps a stunningly simple answer to receiving more is found in a slightly deceptive parable of Jesus.

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

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There is so much we could draw from these verses about many aspects of life but let’s focus on the powerful statement at the end. To finish his parable Jesus says “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” And we thought this was a message about how to get late night bread?

This parable starts about natural provision – someone needs bread for a friend in the middle of the night -but Jesus twists the punch line to make it about something deeper. You see we use this scripture all the time about prayer – ask and you will receive what you need. Sometimes we think we need more bread but God actually wants to give us more of himself. We think we need natural provision but God wants to give us supernatural sustenance. We want to solve a crisis in the dead of the night but God always wants to point us towards a bigger and brighter tomorrow.

Jesus reveals to us how we can approach God and ask for more. It is not out of shame, timidity and fear that we beg and grovel but instead we can persistently approach God with shameless (overt and unrestricted) audacity (a willingness to take bold risks). Jesus is daring us to be bold and willing us to be relentless in our pursuit of God’s spirit. How can we be sure that God wants to answer us? Because he is our father. And secretly all Dads love to be asked when they know they have the provision in their resources.   

Why not ask for more today! This parable is a good reminder of why we ask for more of the spirit. We don’t just need bread for ourselves but for others. We need more of the spirit so we can be more like Jesus in serving others. We ask for more so we can become more like Him. As we ask for more and more,  our lives begin to look a little bit more like Jesus. As Frank Viola says “The Spirit takes the experiences of Jesus … His incarnation, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension … and brings them into our own experience. Because of the Holy Spirit, the history of Jesus Christ becomes our story and experience.”

What does asking for more look like to you today?

Dave Boden – Lead Pastor

SPIRIT FILLED LIFE Part 5 - The Story of the spirit

Reading the bible out of context can be the curse of the modern Christianity. Individual verses can hide the beauty of the bigger picture and keep us trapped in a microscopic view of God. As we look at the breadth and depth of scripture in both the Old and New Testament we can understand more about how the Holy Spirit loves to connect with Mankind. Looking at God’s big story we see the connection between God and mankind has expressed itself uniquely in different seasons through biblical history.  

Through a brief look at this history we learn more about the character of the Holy Spirit. We can also see how significant the season of the spirit is that we are now in. It might seem a bizarre analogy at first but the history of the internet almost directly mirrors the biblical unfolding of mankind’s connection to God’s spirit!  

The internet has unfolded in many different stages since its inception – from dial up and broadband, to Wi-Fi and now the cloud. Can you see how this analogy works in terms of the holy spirit?

Dial Up

The Old Testament shows us the spirit of God connecting with mankind like dial up internet. It was a connection available at set times and set places. People had to plug in for a task or connect in via the temple. Thankfully they didn't get that weird sound from the telephone line when they did!

God connected in the moment for a task. In the example of Gideon we see the spirit of the Lord coming up him to achieve great things in battle against the Mideanites. We also see a picture of God coming upon a person to fulfil a task in the person of Bezaleel with God saying to Moses  And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship" (Exodus 31:1-3). This is a powerful endorsement that Gods spirit can not only anoint us to prophecy but also to do great creative work as well. God works in the workplace!

God also connected in the moment in the temple. One powerful exampleof this is shared in 2 Chronicles 5 v 13-14 “when they praised the LORD saying "He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting," then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.”

The Old Testament was characterised by dial up style visitations from God - they didn’t last long and the connection wasn’t exactly stable.

Broadband

Then came Jesus and everything changed. In Luke 3 v 22 we see the power of God come upon Jesus and stay upon him “…and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

Jesus was like broadband - online all the time. Jesus stands up in the temple and quotes Isaiah 61 saying The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace. This is an ongoing connection that wasn't about to go away even outside the temple walls. Jesus showed us, as the visible image of an invisible God, exactly what it was like to live a life permanently connected.

WI-FI

Then came an even bigger shift. Jesus puzzled his followers by saying it was good that he went away or else the spirit would not be able to come. This was confusing as his followers could not imagine anything better than being with someone who had a permanent connection to God. That is until they realised they could have it for themselves.

Through the power of Wi-Fi we get connected to the internet via a hotspot. There is no better example of spiritual Wi-Fi than what happened at Pentecost. In Acts 2 Peter addresses a crowd who have just experienced a major connection at a spiritual hotspot by saying:

These men are not drunk as you suppose. It is only the third hour of the day! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on My servants, both men and women, I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

The last days are here. Just as a phone can now connect to the web via Wi-Fi, we can now connect via the spirit directly.  But this connection is not just meant for individuals it is destined for whole communities. Maybe it was good that Jesus went away after all!

The Cloud

We now live in an era known as the internet of things. We can get networked access to the web almost anywhere. This network of networks is known as the cloud. God’s intention was always to have the cloud of the spirit accessible through communities of people across the whole earth. We are part of an eternal network of networks. We are the church. 

Ephesians 2 describes the church as being like the new templesaying “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” We no longer have to plug in at set times in set ways. All of us are free tostay online all the time yet somehow our signal is always at its strongest when we stay connected into a spirit filled community.

As you enter the USA and turn on your smart phone you will be greeted by a text message saying “the cloud is here – would you like to connect?”  What if God is saying the same to you and me? We live in the days when the cloud of the spirit is raining across the earth and through the church more and more people are able to plug in. What does the potential of this connection mean for the amazing spirit filled community we are part of?

Dave Boden – Lead Pastor

SPIRIT FILLED LIFE Part 4 - The Dance of the Spirit

Don't you just love Greek words – especially the word kebab! One of the richest pictures of the Holy Spirit I have discovered in recent years is found in the Greek word Perichoresis (pronounced Peri cori sis). This word has and is transforming my view of the trinity from being so impersonal. static and disconnected to being part of of a divine dance. Theologian Jonathan Marlowe describes the trinity as a divine dance of God expressed in the word Perichoresis.

“If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . it’s called Perichoresis. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance. The early church fathers and mothers looked at that dance and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about.”

The illustration of the dance speaks of a divine dynamic within the father, son and spirit. It describes to us a God who lives in perfect unity, intimacy and creativity. We need to understand this relationship or we won’t fully grasp who the Holy Spirit is.

The DANCE reveals Complete Unity

Oneness is at the heart of the father, son and spirit relationship. It is a non-static partnership with full participation and connection. The relationships in the trinity are never separated but somehow distinct. They are one in heart, mind, movement and purpose with no division. It is therefore interesting that where there is great division in the church we see the work of the Holy Spirit is grieved. Perhaps this is why Jesus prayed you and I would be one as they are one? Can you imagine there being grudges or offences in the trinity!  

The DANCE reveals Perfect Intimacy

Relationship, community and love are found first within God himself. In the dance we discover that God is Love. Love is what we get invited into. When we are baptised in the name of the father, son and spirit – we don’t “let God into our life” but our life is immersed into God’s!

Baxter Krueger once said “The gospel is not the news that we can accept an absent Jesus into our lives. The gospel is the news that the Father’s Son has received us into his. We don’t make Jesus part of our world; he has made us part of his.”

We are invited to join the dance of heaven. It is a dance marked by the spirit of love, joy, peace, kindness, freedom and goodness. This is the very nature of God in which there is absolutely no fear present.

If you want to know if you are acting according to the spirit you can simply test your actions against love. The surest hallmark of the Holy Spirit working in a community is that there are expressions of authentic love and unity not just signs and wonders. Why? The last two characteristics can be counterfeited but the first two cannot. What if out of an atmosphere of love and unity we begin to naturally see more supernatural signs and wonders?

The DANCE reveals Powerful Creativity

Dancing changes atmospheres. The creative energy and power of God’s dance causes a shift in the spiritual atmosphere and then things begin to happen. Nothing God does happens in a vacuum. It happens as an expression of his creative nature.

Think about it; The Holy Spirit is the most powerful creative force in the universe. Present at creation hovering above the empty form of the earth, the spirit helped formed the universe. The spirit helped formed mankind from the dust and breathed life into our human spirit. That’s creativity in action. The creative power of the spirit caused the miraculous conception of Jesus, moved through Jesus to set captives free, and it even raised Jesus from the dead. This same power that made us new creations is the power that endlessly fuels the dynamic dance of God between heaven and earth.

When you pray for more of the spirit of God in your life, you are not just praying for more of a feeling, you are accepting an invitation to join the dance of unity, intimacy and creativity. What does being part of this dance mean for you?

Dave Boden – Lead Pastor

SPIRIT FILLED LIFE Part 3- The Power of the Spirit

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They say that lightning never strikes twice in the same spot but when you realise that Lightning actually flashes more than 3 million times a day worldwide — that’s about 40 times a second, this can be hard to believe. Did you know? The average lightning bolt can release enough energy to operate a 100-watt light bulb for more than three months straight. That’s pretty powerful stuff coming from the heavens all the time.

In Luke 24:49 Jesus speaks of a different kind of power coming from on high when he says to his disciples “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The spirit of God is spoken of as a source of power. In the same way that the spirit is not impersonal, power itself is not an abstract force. We always need power to do something. I don’t care about where the plugs are in my house until I need to recharge my phone and can’t find a spare one. It’s the phone I am bothered about not the power.

We so often long to experience the power of God in meetings, but what happens when the final worship song ends and we have to go back into the real world? After all, people don’t get excited about electricity just because it can gave you a buzz when you touch it!  People are excited about what can be achieved when we connect with it. This can be the same with us and the Holy Spirit.

Through the work of the spirit of God in our lives God empowers us with the power to know, to show and to go.  

The Power to Know

The Spirit gives us the power to know and discern God’s love for us. Paul prays in Ephesians 3 and says “I pray you may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to understand how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”. The first power we need is a “power to understand”. Because our lives are full of brokenness from the scandal of sin and the shackles of our own shame we can sometimes miss the reality of the depth of love that God has for each one of us. Unless we experience this love we can never fully embrace an experience of the holy spirit at work in and through our lives.

In Romans 8 v 16 we discover that The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” This means that God is at work in you and me showing us that he loves us enough to call us his own child. When you know you are God’s child you are free to act more like your father.  That’s   what the spirit does. The power of the spirit comes to unlock the revelation of sonship and the amazing inheritance that brings. We need the power to know.  

The Power to Show

The spirit gives us power to show and demonstrate God’s love. If you look deeper into the scriptures about the work of the Holy Spirit we find that God empowers his children with supernatural gifts, prophecy and many other special abilities. We see the spirit move through people in miracles and divine circumstances. Natural skill and traits such as the gift of leadership or hospitality are given a supernatural edge and can make an impact way beyond the sum of their parts. What is the purpose of all these things? Is it so that a person can show off some power like a super hero in training? No, it is so that they can show and demonstrate God’s love to others. Every prophecy, every gift of wisdom, every healing and miracle and every moment of divine intervention speaks of the love of God to our world. If you want to know if something is of the spirit of God test it against love. The plumb line for all expressions of the Holy Spirit is love. And the reason for all the gifts and fruit of the spirit in our lives is to give us power to show that love in action.

 The Power to Show

The spirit gives us the power to go and declare Gods love. The Spirit of God emboldens us to boldly preach the gospel and anoints us for impact in our sphere of influence and calling. We can only truly GO when God gives us the power to get off the starting blocks. Isaiah 61 declares that we have power to go and proclaim freedom for prisoners and liberty for captives. This can be outworked in exciting, unique and specific ways for each person according to who God has made you to be and where he has placed you in his plans and purposes. We have the power to show the kingdom of God wherever we are.

We need to know God’s love before we can be empowered to show and go in God’s love. Don’t just settle for the buzz, plug right in and move in that power today. What does this mean for you?

Dave Boden – Lead Pastor

SPIRIT FILLED LIFE Part 2 - The Truth of the spirit

If the motto of the old TV show X Files was “The Truth is out there” then the motto of the New Testament was probably “The Truth is in Him”. In a world that is endlessly searching for answers, our notion of what is true is now redefined through the filter of Jesus. In the midst of our fake news culture, as Christians we are given access to true truth through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus taught his disciples who the Holy Spirit is in John 16:13 when he said when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” Truth is important. Jesus wasn’t just a cerebral teacher who came to increase our knowledge, he came to give us an “abundant life” not just an “abundant ideology”. Poor understanding of truth always leads to poor Christian experience.

If the Holy Spirit is known as the spirit of truth then the opposite can be said of the devil when Jesus describes him by saying There is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Other versions of that same scripture in John 8:44 describe the enemy as one who spins a narrative of lies. The age old battle of light versus darkness can also be seen as a battle of truth versus lies.

When we are caught up in false narratives, it is often too easy to become deluded about the nature of who the Holy Spirit is. There are however some clear warning signs that we have fallen into believing a “narrative of lies” about God rather than holding to the spirit of truth.

We can DEPERSONALISE the spirit. If we see The Holy spirit simply as am impersonal floating force then we may as well gird up our light sabres and say “Use the force Luke”. When we believe there is no character to the spirit, we inevitability start to put our own character onto the work of the spirit. We remake God in our own image. When God works outside the box of our personality, we either reject it, don’t understand it or simply miss it altogether.

A depersonalised spirit becomes a tool for the fulfilment of our own desires and dreams. God becomes like a genie we rub to make our wishes come true. “Ask anything in my name” quickly turns into “Ask anything I want”. When our fanciful hope in a depersonalised God doesn’t come through it inevitably causes disillusionment.

We can DISTORT the spirit. If we just rely on the weird and wonderful in meetings to teach us about God, God’s spirit can become a caricature. We get a distorted view of the spirit which leads to distorted expressions of our spiritual life. An overly charismatic experience can easily lead to imbalance where we get more excited about the high of the spirit than the fruit of the spirit.  A distorted view of the spirit leads us to believe God is only useful for the whizz bang of platform ministries and not suitable for the whisper of parenting, work and family life.

We can DISENGAGE from the spirit. We disengage with the spirit because our false views of God cause us to believe that he Holy Spirit is not for us. If God is not working in the way we think he should then it must be because we are not good enough. We look at people who we think are living spirit filled lives and say “I could never do that” or “I could never be that” or “I could never say that”. We think the Holy Spirit is only for the Christian “superstar” or the super spiritual or the professional “full time” Christian. This disengagement leads to multitudes of disillusioned Christians all over the world.

The story of depersonalisation, distortion, disillusionment and disengagement is sadly a source of faulty thinking that is a disease rife in the heart of the church. Too many of God’s children have believed the father of lies. This is why we need to know the spirit of truth more and more. Like a Sat Nav for the soul we need the spirit to help us navigate through the webs of deception into the story of truth.

The promise of the coming spirit of truth gives us an assurance that we don’t have to depersonalise our faith because God is with us. We don’t have to live with a distorted perspective because God is in us and we don’t have to disengage from our faith because God will work through us. Now that’s a narrative worth believing in.  What does this story mean for you?

Dave Boden – Lead Pastor

SPIRIT FILLED LIFE Part 1 - The Hallmarks of the Spirit

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I grew up in a charismatic church that believed in the experiential power of the Holy Spirit. In the early 1990's during what was known as a “special outpouring” of the spirit I remember taking school friends to “times of refreshing” meetings to show them what was happening in our church. We watched people fall over, giggle, shake, dance and make the odd strange noise or two. They also watched people healed, set free and delivered from long term issues in an instant. Others walked away seemingly with no impact at all.  It certainly caused some interesting conversations amongst my teenage friends!

Whilst I know I grew hugely in my own faith, love for Jesus, and a heart for mission during this time, I am not sure I grew much in my understanding of who the Holy Spirit I was experiencing so tangibly actually was. In the midst of what was certainly a wave of God moving to refresh and renew the church, we inevitably also saw elements of hype, emotion, attention seeking, distraction and the odd bit of man-made agenda creep in too – well I saw some of this in myself anyway! When you are lost in the experience, you don’t always consider the source.  

When Paul was teaching the church in Corinth about spiritual gifts he starts 1 Corinthians 12 by saying “you used to be led astray to mute idols”. This is interesting because even back then he was teaching about our practice and experience of the spirit not in a vacuum but against a backdrop of counterfeit spirituality. It is the same for us today. It takes more discernment and wisdom than we realise to filter through ancient church tradition and modern church experience to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

In our experiences of the Holy Spirit, not everything that has “Christian” written on the packaging is necessarily from God but at the same time that which can seem weird, strange or counter intuitive to us, can often be a trigger and a starting point for transformation and encounter with the Living Christ. Like I said, we need wisdom. After all, what if God is more interested in our fruit than our style?

As a child I was taught the truth that the Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Godhead: Our God is Father, Son and Spirit. I learnt a useful illustration that God is like water, Ice and Steam; all these are different states but they are comprised of the same H2O element. This points to the idea that we serve “One God with different expressions” but it is limited in that it keeps our view of the spirit conceptual rather than personal.

We need to talk about the personhood of God and not just see the spirit as a distant impersonal force. As someone once said “We do not sing “God in three thesis points, blessed Trinity”. Whatever your personal experience of the Holy Spirit in meetings, know that he genuinely wants to be real, up close and personal in the whole of your life.  The spirit is for life, not just for meetings.

Over the next few posts we will be exploring some of the hallmarks of the Holy Spirit according to scriptures, and as we do, we will unlock a view of God that is wider and deeper than we dare to hope or even imagine. When we know who the spirit is, not just what the spirit feels like in a meeting, it will prompt us to lead more of a spirit filled life. What might this mean for you?

Dave Boden – Lead Pastor