“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4 NASV
My wife and I love old farmhouses. We are fortunate enough to pastor in Virginia where they abound and are even more fortunate to own one. Call us traditional, nostalgic or just old-fashioned, we love the aura of these old homes.
It’s certainly not the amenities that attract us to these homes. There are plenty of challenges to living in an old farmhouse. Low basement ceilings, small or no closets, and walking through one bedroom to get to another, just to name a few.
Our home had the unique challenge of having no central heat or air on the second floor. This has been a nuisance since we purchased the home several years ago. We are always trying to find a simple solution. Several times I have gone to a home improvement store and bought something that was inexpensive and easy to install. We always ended up with the same thing; a portable, inefficient and inferior device trying to heat or cool the air upstairs. The air was neither as clean as the main floor, nor the right temperature. The upstairs had a simple problem, it always mirrored the outside temperature; cold in winter, hot in summer.
A few months ago we were in need of a new HVAC system and we decided this was a good time to go ahead and run the ductwork to the second floor.
There was one major problem; how would we get the air from the basement where the main unit resides to the second floor of the home? This was no small dilemma! We didn’t want to consume valuable space on the main floor by running ductwork right through the heart of the kitchen, living room or dining room. How would we get much needed fresh air upstairs? There seemed to be no good path.
As a pastor, I regularly face a similar dilemma. How desperately I need the fresh air of the Holy Spirit flowing into my life and our church. Without the prevailing work of the Spirit, the church, like our upstairs, assimilates to whatever the outside temperature of the world is at that moment. We can be certain we are not in revival when our churches reflect the spiritual temperature of the world. The fresh air of the Holy Spirit provides spiritual “temperature control” helping us to be different and make a difference. It is the prayer of those longing for revival that the power of the Spirit would flow unimpeded through lives, families, churches and our world once again. Oh how we need fresh air!
The effects of a Spirit-less church are tragic and visible; services are dead, prayer meetings are sparse, preaching is fruitless and worldliness abounds in our lives.
Much like my home, we often try to solve our problem with inferior alternatives. Some believe theological liberalism is the new and wonderful way, others believe we need a new style of worship, some believe we need to be more relevant, others believe the path forward is to go backwards into traditionalism, and yet others believe strict adherence to their pet issues is the answer to revival. Through our feeble attempts, our churches become cluttered with man-made religion, dead traditions, spiritual pride, human control, liberalism, or legalism and yet remain the same spiritual temperature.
We soon discover there really is no cheap or easy substitute for experiencing the power of the Spirit.
Oh, let me finish the story about our house. We discovered an abandoned chimney running up through a closet (which we had built) of a main floor bedroom. A place that if the chimney were gone would provide space for new duct work to the second floor. The contractors could easily run the new channels if we would only take the time to remove the chimney and clean out the clutter that surrounded it in the storage room in the basement. Both of these were sizeable tasks, but the issue before us was clear. Keep the clutter and the useless brick chimney or remove everything that stood in the way and experience clean air upstairs.
Over the course of several days while I chipped away at the chimney in a small cramped space of a closet, we also worked to eliminate unnecessary clutter from the storage room. Finally new lines were installed and our second story office and bedroom were filled with the cool breezes of cold air in the heat of summer.
The spiritual application is clear. We need Jesus more than anything in our churches, yet too often we are full of stuff we don’t need or don’t use and we find ourselves too sentimental to discard it. We need once again to simply do whatever it takes to have the Holy Spirit unleashed in our midst.
God’s path to renewal always begins by removing the stuff that takes the place of His work in our lives, be it sin or stuff, the things that crowd out the fresh air of the Spirit must go!
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51 NASV
I am encouraged to know that God is more anxious to revive His church than we were to condition the air of our home.
…And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Jn 20:21-22
Lord, reveal to us that which hinders the moving of your Spirit in our life. Remove it, we ask, and revive us once again with the clean fresh air of your Holy Spirit.