I’ve discovered something interesting about myself. I have a personality quirk. “Oh girl….,” you might be thinking to yourself. I know, I know, I know I’ve got several quirks. I have a lot to work on. But this one quirk—or uniqueness-has been something I believed to be a rebellious nature in me. What I discovered recently, by working with a small group on the Enneagram, is this personality trait is actually part of who God created me to be. The Fall Program Guide will be out in August. You can register on line and take a course or workshop with me if you want to learn more about the little nuances that make you who you are. You can sign up for the 3-Week Workshop called ‘The Enneagram Workshop’ in November. The workshop follows the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course which begins August 29and runs through October 24. 

So, here goes. This is my quirk. I discovered the minute someone tries to define me or what I do, I’m immediately tempted to defy it in every way. I don’t like to be defined by conventional classifications whether it is for women, pastors, wives, friends, sisters or even in my choices for fashion. I will attempt to purposely wiggle out of any formal description. So, whenever someone tries to define me or something about me, it feels like someone is trying to pigeon-hole me and limit me or my influence. That makes me crazy inside. Sure, I may smile and accept a compliment. I acquiesced to ordination within the United Methodist Church. I am married, happily I may add. I love participating in fashion trends and look forward to discovering what little make-up tip will be all the rage the next season. This quirk I have either gets me ridicule or admiration.

Conventional teaching is part of the Church. Christian teaching in most Evangelical churches has often tried to classify things. I think it’s because the Church has been influenced by corporate culture. So, now we love to measure success and define failure. The church growth movement challenged local churches to identify how successful they were by accounting for how many people were attending worship, small groups, Women’s ministry gatherings and Men’s basketball leagues. Success out-ranked significance. Now, we are asking deep questions in the Church about why so many people don’t attend worship, tithe or know what is in the bible. Maybe we measured the wrong things or misdiagnosed failure.

I believe it’s time to wiggle out of conventional Evangelical Christian teaching with regards to the Holy Spirit. I believe He’s received a bad rap. Wesleyans understand this because we’ve been misdiagnosed as ‘Enthusiasts’ since the beginning. There is no way to measure the Holy Spirit. We cannot easily categorize, organize or pasteurize him or his work. It may be difficult for some people to become comfortable with emotions, feelings and outbursts of praise for no apparent reason. The Holy Spirit’s role is to help us govern our own self-control but He cannot be controlled. As a matter of fact, the minute we try to control the Holy Spirit, we lose him. Scripture even says, we grieve Him. (Ephesians 4:30)

Read I Corinthians 12 in order to prepare for Sunday’s message. The line that has always captured me is in verse 31 ‘use your ambition to try to get the greater gifts.’ There are greater things for you. There are greater things for all of us. I pray for you all to wiggle out of your comfortable spiritual malaise and to be awakened by God. I pray for the divine inspiration and blessing in your life. I pray you hunger and thirst for righteousness. I pray you are so ignited by the pain and suffering you see in the world that you can no longer settle for the placid answers and do something about it. I pray you are wrecked by the influence of the corporate culture in the Church and work along with me to reveal the Church as a living body which belongs to Jesus. The Church is His bride. He will provide. He will sustain. He will lead and He will lead where we may not want to go. But, in the end, the glory we experience is nothing short of the eternal glory which is Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be the glory forever.  See you in church Sunday.

What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. I Corinthians 12:1-3 The Message

Pastor Jen