Thursday, December 19, 2013

the storm and the cloud

It’s time for the weekly installment of being uncomfortable, brought to you by Bill Johnson, author of “Face to Face with God.”  Chapter 4 is titled “His Manifest Presence” and is all about God revealing Himself.  He says that “God’s face is revealed in outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” God’s face. He talked in the chapter about how Moses quite literally saw the face of God. Are you uncomfortable yet? Wait, there’s more.   “But not all can recognize God’s face in the outpouring of His spirit. When the rain of the Spirit comes, most people fixate on the effects of the storm and miss the One revealed in the cloud. The extreme joy, the weeping, the shaking and trembling, the visions and dreams, the healing… are all revelations of His face. Some people love these manifestations, and some people reject them. But the sobering thing to realize is that our response to the move of the Spirit is not a response to manifestations. Rather, it is a response to the face of God. To reject the move of the Spirit of God is to reject the face of God.”
            Okay, let’s back up. First let me make a disclaimer that I am not a theologian and am not representing the views of the Presbyterian church.  And I don’t agree with his generalization that each of these instances is the face of God.  We can’t know that either way. However.  Let us not be so quick to dismiss a manifestation of God because it makes us uncomfortable or we disagree with it. What if we are the ones who are wrong, and we are attributing the manifestation of God to something else? What would we be missing?
            Healing happens. Period. My dad has been healed of long-term clinical depression and high blood pressure.  My dad, who happily took medications for years for these issues. You have to listen to his sermon about it, because he tells the story best. I know we have all heard stories of healing and it so easy to dismiss as some medical anomaly or even doubt the authenticity.  But, sometimes, and certainly in my dad’s case, this is a manifestation of God, and we choose how we respond.
            And yet here we are in the Advent season, anticipating the birthday of our Savior.  God manifested Himself as a baby. Let us celebrate this manifestation as we should, and seek Him outside the manger as well.
Beth Kropf


Friday, December 13, 2013

an uncomfortable journey

Today I’m visiting again “Face to Face with God” by Bill Johnson (what a great Christmas present!). This guy is unconventional and I think, as my dad has said in referring to himself, has the spiritual gift of making people uncomfortable. This is a long quote, but it is important to not misunderstand him:
“The essential doctrines of the church- the Virgin Birth, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, the Atonement, and the like- qualify as issues we should fight for. That being said, I will purposefully bring speakers into our church that I know disagree with theologically if they are people of great anointing and integrity. It makes people nervous. But that’s not necessarily a bad think. Insecurity is wrong security exposed.”
            He goes on to talk about how godly relationships are correctly beginning to trump denomination and doctrine. Doctrine without God’s love and Spirit is dead. That’s easy to believe when we think we are right. Then he says “In order to gain a heart that longs to know God, we must sacrifice our need to be right, to understand or explain things. We have to trust Him enough to let Him shatter our boxes of understanding and lead us into deeper realms of truth.”
            This does not sound comfortable. I would much rather think about the excitement my daughter will experience at Christmas. But I want this. I don’t want to hold onto a belief if it is wrong. I have seen the devastating consequences of doctrine being placed before an individual. Jesus didn't do this, as Chesney shared about how he treated the woman at the well. I don’t want to let fear keep me from seeking truth. What might be in store for us if we are brave enough to take this journey?
Beth Kropf


Friday, December 6, 2013

Wonderful Counselor

Advent: Wonderful Counselor          

I so enjoyed getting to hear Chesney speak on Sunday. I love our focus on the names of Jesus, as names really are important. The name counselor may not be the first name to come to mind when we think about Jesus, but it is so good to be reminded of this role. We should treasure the wise people in our lives, and yet Jesus gives perfect wisdom, and people sometimes do not.
I have a friend who has been given very unwise advice by people close to her, from people who should be protecting her. Over the years I have gotten to see her grow and strengthen in her faith.  She has learned that Jesus is a wonderful Counselor, the most true Counselor. She responds to people advising her with Scripture and a calm spirit. She is no longer swayed away from the correct path. She has conviction that she is doing the right thing, even though there are undesirable consequences.
I pray God gives all of us the wisdom to seek His counsel first. Let us begin our celebration of this baby that changed the world.

Elizabeth Kropf