Unrestrained Following, Unquenched Flames, Unconditional Faith  

Posted by Mike Sharrow in , , , , , , ,

Leadership Summit 2008 was excellent. The faculty delivered a series of powerful punches that struck me and thousands of other leaders in a number of ways...some of which I'm still unpacking. One resounding theme across the speakers was courageous, uninhibited, relentless, risky, consuming pursuit in faith of the things God put before them. Whether a pastor pursuing laser-focus on the mission, a teacher to stand against the wind of educational demise in urban areas, a business-woman diving into a holy discontent for prison recidivism trends or a lawyer selling the farm to address injustice across the globe - each story contained brilliant brushstrokes of radical risk in commitment. Jeopardy was a given, failure a real possibility but quitting, safety and partial investment ruled out.

These themes were heard like a punch in the gut. The Bible commands followers of Christ to not quench the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19). It's a passage that has always troubled me. So many times we talk about desiring to hear God's voice, see His leading, know His will - but this passage suggests we would intentionally douse the flame of God's consuming presence. Surely not! How crazy! It makes you feel like Peter, so confidently guffawing when Jesus suggested someone would betray him (Judas) and one who loved Him would even deny Him (Pete) multiple times. Surely we would never push God away, right?

Yet, I confess, it is my most perpetual act of disobedience. I want closeness with God, but at the depth I'm comfortable swimming, at the pace I can still steer, at a temperature I can control.

This fear is well founded. Indeed, the Bible even attests to the nature of God dramatically, using terms like a "consuming fire." It's the same problem the Rich Young Ruler had with Jesus...the utter and complete consumption of being God desires. There's a terrifying reality of truly being consumed by God as you draw near to Him and He begins to fully invade your life and take you places only He is adequate to sustain. There's a tipping point of the soul that I so often pull back from.

I'm guilty of teaching instead of leading, of offering instead of exhorting, of dabbling instead of diving, praying silently instead of intervening intercessently, hinting at hope instead of proclaiming incredibly good news, being content with status quo or slightly "better" practice instead of running into frontiers where God has called me to...of pouring water onto the very flame of the Spirit of God to subdue it back to a controlled burn...running at a pace I can endure and sustain without overly depleting my own reserve rather than abandoning myself in His race...reducing His message to tolerable bites for concern of how I'll be perceived or what doorways it might thrust me through...
James 5:16 says confession is healing. Next comes obedience in response.

How are you quenching the Spirit? In what ways do you pander God by minimizing calls He has in your life? How are you dialing down the intensity and vibrancy of God's movement in and through you?

This entry was posted at Sunday, August 10, 2008 and is filed under , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 thoughts and responses

I wish I knew all that before the vote. Just kidding. :)

Mike, thank you for transparency even after you became a pastor. There is a little sarcasm there and maybe a little truth, also.

There is a path to take that requires walking the ridge line after a hard rain. The path is slippery and steeply slopes immediately on both sides. There is only one way to reach your destination.

You have to place each foot directly in front of the next. There is no turning back. Taking a step to either side spells failure. Possibly, even taking a step forward in obedience will create a sense of failure.

I remember the heroes of the Word and believe that whether God saves me or not, I believe He can and I choose obedience and will worship Him in the fire when required!

August 11, 2008 at 10:25 PM
Anonymous  

A risk of faith stands between you and a miracle with your name on it.

http://readtheword.wordpress.com/2008/08/12/a-risk-of-faith-stands-between-you-and-a-miracle/

August 12, 2008 at 6:45 AM

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