The Introduction to Simply Supernatural
So this week I turned the corner and got into the final straight of finishing my next book: Simply Supernatural – the simplicity of the Holy Spirit. I am so grateful that there are a few of you that are excited to help me edit and review this book. But I thought that I would publish the introduction to you and get your thoughts. I am still awaiting the edited version of this introduction from the editors but hey here is it in its raw- read, enjoy and let me have your comments…
A pastor’s retreat found me sitting around a campfire on the banks of the Umfolozi River in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa. Pastors retreats were always my favorite time away. We had spent the day playing touch-rugby and had watched Giraffe and Rhino and herds of buck coming down to the watering hole where we were camping. In the cool of the evening, we had even spotted a rare sighting of a cheetah capturing its prey. I had always seen that kind of event on TV, and here we were watching it happen live.
One of the pastors had been a game warden in the game park where we were staying and took us on a crazy night time game drive to spot the cheetah and find as many hyenae’s as we could. He even had hyena mating calls on his car stereo system to attract the hyenas to our location. We had returned to a braai (BBQ) and were enjoying the peacefulness under the African sky. It was breath-taking. The pastors with me were all of the same group of churches and were pretty much in unity about most theological topics.
It was a great discussion and time of encouragement and all were at peace with one another, and then the discussion turned to the gifts and manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Never before have I heard an argument erupt so quickly. It flared like the flames of the fire and then settled into a heated debate that was still going on when I turned in for the night – or was that turned in for the morning?
Almost 10 years of ministerial stories and Pastors retreats later, I found myself at a preparation session for a multi-denominational camp that I was to help lead. One of the camp talks was on the subject of the Holy Spirit and the same heated debate that erupted on the banks of the Umfoluzi River showed up in a meeting room in a church in Fourways, Johannesburg.
Invited to speak at a church in the Midlands of England, Leanne, my wife and I arrived and met with the elders. They were hospitable and very receptive to us coming to be with them. After an afternoon of them showing us the area and taking us to the famous Sherwood Forest, we stopped in at a small pub for lunch. I had the pheasant which made me incredibly ill and I had to quickly recover before speaking that evening at the church. In the days leading up to this meeting, I had found the people we had met to be asking about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and hungry for what He could bring into their lives. Many of the community we met with had been part of the traditional churches in the area and hungered for more. The kind of more that the Holy Spirit is so good at bringing into our lives. With all this in mind and cramps in my stomach, the Lord told me to preach on the concept that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit were available to all. What I have neglected to tell you was that the church I was about to speak in had very stayed ideas about women in the church and would not allow them to participate in the services let alone have them “manifesting” diligence in leadership (Romans 12: 6-8).
As I began to unpack my message, I noted that many seemed to be getting up and going to the restroom and for some reason not returning. Some of the women seemed to be enjoying the message. But once it was done, I knew that this would go down as one of the most hostile responses I have ever had while preaching. Let’s just say that the gathering in the fellowship hall to meet the guest South African speaker over a cup of tea after the message did not happen; the recording of the message never made the churches archive, the Facebook posts promoting the event were removed and we were never invited back.
Now for many Christians, there is an agreement in the base understanding that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Holy Trinity. But there is a denominational divide in how He operates, what effect he has on us and how we relate to Him. Concepts like how we get into the flow of where the Holy Spirit leads us, the gifts He gives us, the talents He stirs in us and what that looks like at church and in our personal lives, are all up for heated debate.
But when we read of the Christians in the Bible and their united cooperation with the Holy Spirit, it seems so simple and straight forward. With so much complexity, argument and division around such a special personage of God, I embarked on what is now almost a twenty-year journey into understanding the supernatural. I don’t proport to have all the answers and neither is my personal journey in this space anywhere near complete. This book is not an attempt to delve into a theological debate, but rather shine a light on the simplicity of what it means to walk with the Holy Spirit and all that He is and can be in our lives.
Instead of just unpacking who the Holy Spirit is, I really wanted to start a discussion about why the Holy Spirit came into our lives in the first place and also, probably more importantly, what happens when you and the Holy Spirit collide. When the two of you come together something supernatural happens. How do we step into the workings of the Holy Spirit, who is He in us and what He is doing through us?
We use a lot of terminology in the church when it comes to the Holy Spirit. For instance, “The Holy Spirit is flowing through me.” “I’m being used by the Holy Spirit.” “I’m doing things in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Wouldn’t it be neat if we could understand what it practically means to step out into the gifts and the flow of the Holy Spirit and live a supernatural life, a life that God needs us to live in the situations we find ourselves?