The Social Dimension of the Power of God

power“What will people think

When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak

What will people do when they find that it’s true

I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak

There ain’t no disguising the truth.” – Jesus Freak, DC Talk

If there is anything Christian song that characterized my experience as a young person, it would have to be DC Talk’s Jesus Freak. Released in 1995, it defined what it meant to live a life completely sold out to God. Living a life on fire, as we so affectionately called it, was a big deal for youth like me who grew up in a Pentecostal context such as the Assemblies of God. In the era of the Brownsville Revival and the Toronto Blessing, being consumed with anything else simply wasn’t an option if you were truly a Christian.

We competed for God’s blessings, well rather, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The true marker of our commitment to God was whether or not we could speak in tongues. The second was whether we would get slain in the Spirit or at least, have a prophesy directed our way when the evangelist laid their hands on our head. And because I experienced both of these things, I was confident that I was a truly living a life that was pleasing to God.

We were mainly concerned with the visible works of the Holy Spirit. Sure, we cherished the fruits of the Spirit – things like love, joy, peace, and patience – but there were very little sermons preached about how we live in comparison to ensuring that we were full of the Spirit. We prayed for it. We fasted for it. We did all nighters and See You at the Pole rallies to prove just how sold out to God we were. We toiled and tarried at the altar, sometimes for hours, convinced that if we did our part, God would show up and pour out His Spirit in the same way He did in the early church, at least in the same way He did in the Azuza Street Revival. And we judged other Christians who were not pursuing God in the same manner, attaching value statements to believers, and churches, who were not experiencing powerful demonstrations of the Spirit.

And as God filled us with the power of the Holy Spirit, we hoarded the anointing and spent it on ourselves. We did not care, or cared very little, about how the same Spirit might turn the world upside down. Unlike the early church, fullness of the Spirit to us meant more manifestations evidenced in increased church attendance, new conversions, and acts of speaking in tongues. My, how we prioritized speaking in tongues. But we did not think about how the Holy Spirit might use us to dismantle the systems of injustice that were holding people captive to oppression and pain.

See the rest of this post over at Pentecostals and Charismatics for Justice >

Give Me Faith…Like a Woman

quotes-on-inner-strength-women
Sometimes I feel like Moses, praying you would send someone else.

At times I feel like Gideon, desperately looking for a sign that you have spoken to me.
On occasion I feel like Saul, hoping to disappear into the background. 
And other times, I feel like Jonah, wishing to be overcome by a whale so that I won’t have to stand and proclaim your truth in the midst of oppression, evil, and despair.

But then I look to Deborah, who boldly stood up to face her enemies.
And I look to Ruth, who willingly left her family and her land to take hold of a promise that was greater than herself.
And to Rizpah, who brazenly protested against the Davidic empire after he killed Saul’s sons.
And to Esther, who understood her power and looked death straight in the face saying, “If I perish, I perish.”
And then I see Mary, who willingly bore the Savior of the world even though it cost her close relationships as well as her reputation.
And Anna, who refused to die until she saw the coming of the Lord in her lifetime.

Make me like these women who unequivocally understood their God given worth.
Make me like these women who knew what they were called to do and refused to allow male patriarchy, oppression, and even fear, stand in their way.
Make me like these women who were willing to stand out and against the crowd so that they could walk in your call and purpose.
It is the faith of these that I need today, so that I too can move, stand, resist, and proclaim God’s truth and justice to a world that consistently goes its own way. 

Give me faith like a woman who persistently hopes when there is very little to hope in. 
Give me faith like a woman who continues to dream of a better tomorrow when today looks so bleak. 
Give me faith like a woman who willingly defies death and destruction for the sake of her loved ones. 
Give me faith like a woman who nurtures, protects, and gives life to all of those around her.

Because our vulnerability, sensitivity, and love are not weakness. They are our strength.

Link to image >

What It Means to Be a Woman in a Male Dominated World

Shamed for being too vulnerable,
chastised for being strong.
No permission to be weak,
balancing the world on your shoulders.
If you refuse,
it just may topple.

Few take up the mantle, the burden,
to care, raise, provide and protect,
and still,
‘May I,’ litters your tongue lest your actions be mistaken for insolence,
instead of survival.
It’s all about survival.

The idea of freedom is just as perplexing,
paradoxical.
Free to work, free to self-educate – well at least some of us – free to think,
but not to speak, challenge, or rebuke.

One’s opinions, caution, wisdom mistaken as disrespect.
Or theologically incorrect.
Words spoken to ensure you stay in your place.
If you are not careful, any semblance of peace you do have could vanish,
in a twinkling of an eye.

Aim high, but don’t you dare fly.
Be but don’t think you actually exist.
Caught somewhere between humanity and deity.
Sex object and goddess.
Jezebel and mammy.
Yet power, true power no where in reach.
Too constrained and tried to feel and breathe.
To resist.

Slowly destroying the mind,
killing the spirit,
until you become a version of your former self.
That’s where dreams die,
that’s where the will to change ceases.

The hope of living in another world where equality could actually be real becomes foreign,
unknown.
All of the visions of yesteryear are replaced by the wish for rescue by any means necessary.
No longer about revolution or upheaving the wretched system of patriarchy that created this mess.
No capacity to think about the possibilities.
Responsibilities and expectations choke life out of you.

And still, you march on.
You march on for your sisters and daughters.
Your mothers and grandmothers.
Your nieces and play cousins.
Yourself.
Understanding the quitting isn’t truly an option.
If you really want to survive.