Monday, July 01, 2013


It was one of those moments where the Holy Spirit gives you the words to say at just the right moment.

I was on vacation with my family when the text came up on my cell phone. A friend of mine had a house church that needed some advice about something they were struggling with. As I listened to the person speak to me about the challenges the group was facing I whispered a prayer under my breath for help. What hope could I offer her? What wisdom could I share? I was drawing blanks.

She shared with me how she had asked everyone in her group to describe what they wanted out of the gathering. What she got back was a variety of responses. Some wanted an Acts 2 church, others wanted deeper community, still another wanted to understand the Bible more. There seemed to be little common ground among them, although every need expressed was valid in its own way. That’s when the Holy Spirit gave me what she needed.

“I understand why you asked everyone to share their expectations,” I said. “I would have wanted to know that if I were in your shoes. But maybe next week you should ask everyone a different question. Ask them to pray about what Jesus wants from this church, and not to assume that it’s the same as what they’ve already expressed.”

That was it. One simple question that cut to the heart of what this group was struggling with. But it wasn’t my question, it was the Lord’s question for them.

I love moments like that. I love when the Holy Spirit shows up and rescues me in those situations where I’m being asked to do something that is beyond my reach. Sometimes the answers come to me in mid conversation like this, but sometimes I have to stop and pray out loud for wisdom. Either way, I’ve yet to have a situation where the Lord didn’t answer me when I needed help.

My anchor verse for all of this is James 1:5-7:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Why does this work? I believe it’s because God wants to keep us constantly aware of our need for Him. Especially when it comes to building His church. The real danger comes when we start running off on our own without consulting Him along the path. If we can do church without God then what’s the point? Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing.

So, maybe it would be great to ask this question in your church gathering: “What does Jesus want with your group?” And then spend some time listening to what He says. The answers might surprise you.




C said...

Thanks for sharing that, Keith. One of my favorite accounts from the Old Testament is when Nehemiah came before the king desiring to go rebuild Jerusalem. The king asked what he would request, and Nehemiah first "prayed to the God of heaven" (Nehemiah 2:4).

Mark O'Loughlin said...

This is just what I need to read today... Our church as been asking the first question, "What we want?" and we need to flip it to ask God, "What he wants?"


Randi Jo :) said...

Great advice, thank yoU!:)

Irma said...

This is fantastic!