Hoist Your Sails


By Rob Campbell


Over two hundred years ago, one of the founding fathers of America, Benjamin Rush, had a dream. In this dream, a man was climbing atop Christ=s Cathedral Church in Philadelphia and began turning the weather vane. In effect, he had reversed the relationship between the weather vane and the wind. As Mr. Rush awakened, he analyzed this dream. He concluded that the weather vane upon the majestic church building was not a manipulator of the wind, but simply an indicator of which direction the wind is blowing. As he pondered the dream, he sensed he was the man ascending the church=s roof. In his critical role during the founding of our nation, he was convicted of trying to change the events of the time rather than indicate them.

Jesus said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Are you a manipulator or an indicator of God=s activity in your midst? Trying to manipulate the Spirit of God is not new news. One simply needs to read the books of Acts to see such behavior.

In the early church, no person is more poignantly present than the Holy Spirit. The decisions and directions of men and women were rooted in the moving of the Holy Spirit. Despite this reality, there were missteps, mistakes, misjudgments– you know, sin. The following two snapshots from the Acts of the Apostles through the Holy Spirit should serve as cautions for us in this realm of manipulation.

First, we may attempt to manipulate the Holy Spirit through organization (see Acts 1:15-26). Although God told the disciples to wait, Peter wanted to organize. His organization was filled with biblical interpretation (v. 20), appropriate nominations (v. 23), and election (v. 26). The organization was impressive. It looked good, but it contained no dynamic of God. Have you noticed another mention of the elected disciple named Matthias anywhere else in scripture? Please understand that I am not proposing through this scenario that the Holy Spirit is the sponsor of disorganization. We must submit the organization to God, not God to the organization. Here is the principle I want you to take hold of: The church should be so full of life that people beg for structure rather than the church being so full of structure that the people beg for life.

Second, we may attempt to manipulate the Holy Spirit for reputation (see Acts 5:1-11). Ananias and Sapphira participated in deliberate, deceitful, and demonic manipulation rooted in their motivation to be like Barnabas (Acts 4:37). They wanted a halo without holiness. As a result, they were both taken by God. Courting God and his Spirit for the benefit of one=s reputation is dangerous and deadly business. You don=t have to be eloquent, clever, sensational, logical, but you must be real. If you are not real, you damage incalculably the cause that you represent.

An old preacher was asked by one of his church members to explain John 3:8 (The wind blows wherever it pleases….). “Tell me about the wind,” the church member stated. The old preacher responded, AI don=t know about the wind. All I know is that when the wind blows, we better hoist our sails and catch it.” We cannot dictate the blow of the wind for this is a sovereign act. But, we can hoist our sails.

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