I’m Picking Your New Years Resolution

January of last year I decided it was time to get in shape. Some time in February I determined that round was a shape and considered it a successful mission.

There is nothing magical or even supernatural about a new year. Being a Christian, we can experience new beginnings at the drop of a prayer. But a new year isn’t any less God ordained either. So if our human minds help us understand that we aren’t stuck to the patterns of our past… take advantage of it!

One of my favorite songs is Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here. One of the lines reads:

” To be overcome by Your presence, Lord “

The word, overcome, is a powerful word that deserves some attention. In what context do we use this word? To overcome addiction means to root out a significant part of our lives never to return. To overcome a foe implies conquering that enemy. When we overcome obstacles, we rise up over them and improve our lives in spite of opposition.

Every version of ‘overcome’ I can find has a negative spin on it. The end result might be great, but that greatness comes from success powered only through adversity. If we are overcomers, we were once strugglers, failures, and forgotten.

So how are we overcome by the presence of God? I would claim its all of the above. To be overcome is to throw off critical aspects of who we are that don’t line up with who God made us to be. It’s to be vanquished by unbeatable foes only to walk out unscathed. It’s to be brought to our knees before a Savior who wants to see our very best.

To be overcome is to be wrecked. It’s to be turned upside down and inside out. It’s to say I don’t want this life, I want eternal life. I don’t want what I like, I choose what God desires. I know that I don’t overcome, but God does.

To be overcome by the presence of the Lord is to be destroyed and made new. Think of a dam bursting. The water can be contained no longer. The power has built up and the blockade simply can’t stand against the weight. It may trickle out for a time but eventually man-made materials will give way and water will pour forth in epic fury.

We have a barrier that often keeps God at a distance and limits His desire to work in our lives. To be overcome is to let the water in. Let it explode into us. To be drown in the Spirit. To be drenched in love, soaked in grace and waterlogged in new life.

To be overcome means we may dig in and fight back, but we cannot succeed. We will topple and give way. My new years resolution for you is simple. Choose to accept the overcoming love and cleansing wreckage that God’s grace provides. Be renewed in the presence of a mighty, living God.

God’s new years resolution? It’s you! He wants you. He sacrificed for you. His desire is you. His love is for you. Will you keep playing the game called “Christian” or will you let Him build in you the creation He originally intended? Will you bend knee, ugly cry, and let the holy wrecking begin?

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here

“Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere”

Where is “here”?

The room we are in?
The community?
The city?

Could we think bigger and bolder?

Is here our state?
Perhaps even our country?
Can we invite the spirit to fill the world?

I do not believe the Spirit needs nor wants our permission to fill a room. This gives us power we do not compel. Worse, it puts the Spirit in a box. The Spirit… one of the attributes and parts of the Trinity of God. I think this is important to define to help us understand what we are singing about. Even if the Spirit were waiting on instructions from our limited understanding, what would we tell it? I fear, based on our often selfish ambitions and lack of omniscience, we would ask for things that do not serve at the feet of God. I’m thinking of farmers that pray for rain while just one town over people are devastated by floods. While possibly well intentioned, they are oblivious of the larger picture surrounding them.

So where is ‘here’? Close your fingers into a fist and pound your chest just once. Here! We may not be able to command the Spirit, but we can BE the Spirit. We can invite the Spirit into our church on Sunday mornings to enhance our singing or possibly boost our courage before we go back into the world… or we can invite the Spirit into us. Where we take it with us. Where we can yield to it and be the hands and feet of God in the world. What are the words after, “you are welcome here”?

After we welcome God into our hearts? “Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere”. Flood our bodies. Fill our souls. And when we walk into the Sizzler after the church service, it is not us that enters the buffet line, but it is God exuding beyond our skin. We don’t tell God where to go, we kneel and obey and follow him from within.

We can’t force God in. But we can force Him out. This isn’t taking power away from God. It’s the free will that He gives us. We can fill our soul with unpleasantries that God simply won’t treat with. If our lives are filled with garbage and we invite the Spirit in, you may just leave church empty and alone. When you invite someone into your home, what do you do? You sweep. You mop. You clean. If it’s your boss, you hide all of the company stationary. Some may light candles for an inviting mood and a pleasing smell. In short, we create an environment where someone else might feel comfortable and welcome. We don’t say, “welcome to my filthy trash heap!” No! We welcome them to our home. Our HOME. Our dwelling. We are welcoming God to stay within us. He won’t stay long if He is competing with the flies around overflowing garbage cans.

While it may seem like semantics to some, I’ve witnessed too many people asking God to come down and visit for a bit before allowing Him to retreat back to Heaven where He belongs. And it breaks my heart. Mostly because I’m extremely guilty of this and I can’t stand it when I disappoint my Savior. Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. Here. HERE! Bang that chest one more time.

Before asking, I’ve cleared out all of the offensive and wasted space to allow room for You, Holy Spirit, to truly dwell. I don’t want a visit. This isn’t temporary. It’s not a sleepover nor am I requesting You take the room over the garage for an extended stay. I’m inviting You to take over my life. It’s clear that without You leading my body, I’m a complete wreck. I’m inviting You to the only place that I have any control over… the temple that You created for Yourself. While You had the power to occupy this person, You have patiently waited for me to choose You. Not just choose You, but to sacrifice for You. To toss out and run away from things that have kept us apart. And now that I have learned what Your love is for me. And how desperately I need You, I’m inviting You to come back. To come back and to take control. Where You lead me, I’ll be there overflowing the atmosphere of every place my feet are able to step… with You.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome HERE! Come flood THIS place and fill the atmosphere…

I have a theory as to why so many don’t ask God to come into their own personal lives…. They are scared. Terrified. It’s not a prayer that typically goes unanswered. Heal the sick, keep those traveling safe, bless the homeless. We can take them or leave them. But… asking God to step into our lives and turn everything upside down. Shaking the foundation of who we are, rattling the walls we built for our own safety, and when the dust settles… changing our outlook, turning away from earthly priorities, and walking out a new, changed, reborn person of God. Yeah, that isn’t for the weak or faint of heart.

I’d like to ask you to ask God into your life, but most everyone thinks they already have. So instead, I’ll dare you to sing this song and mean it. Ask God to tear down all the wrong in your life and rebuild you in His rebirth. Maybe the better question… is God even welcome in your life? Only you and He can answer that.