identity, pride, etc. - I think this is one of the greatest keys to the supernatural

It is important to come to the right conclusions about what occurs when God does something through someone. It is dangerous to create our own spiritual identities out of having a strong prophetic annointing, healing annointing, having lots of spiritual insight, and so on. If someone comes to the conclusion "I am a prophesying machine" or whatever because they get five very accurate words in a row, they created an identity out of what God did through them. Spiritual pride often becomes the next logical step. Shortly thereafter, it is very easy for either a) the joy to leave in regards to prophesying or b) the gift to not work so smoothly. Why?

First a): God moves through a person through the Holy Spirit. Love and joy are fruit of the Holy Spirit and faith flows through love. When gifts become about me and what gift I have and what I can do, I have missed the whole point. The gift flows the best through love. When the love leaves in regards to using the gift, the joy often goes with it - because they are both fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit are the Holy Spirit's fruit. Not mine. I am commanded to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit so that His fruit flows out of me. I think this can best be illustrated through self-control. Cloud & Townsend like to talk in How People Grow how self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit - not mine. The person who is trying really hard to control themselves will typically be out-of-control. A person with a profound anger issue that tries to control their temper often doesn't really succeed for the long term. That is because self-control comes from being filled with the Holy Spirit. Either all of the fruit of the Holy Spirit are in operation or none of them are. Because they are the Holy Spirit's fruit, not mine. So, back to joy and love. When love for people leaves and pride over the gift checks in it is a really good way to lose all joy related to the gift. Because the joy and love checked out together - when the filling of the Holy Spirit did. 1 John 2: 14-17 talks of how pride (along with lust and sinful cravings) are what keeps someone from having the love of the Father in them. They are the fool's gold that keeps from the mother lode. So the pride about how God worked through them killed the love of the Father which caused the joy to check out with it. Make sense?

Sometimes, though, the gift just ceases to work. This would make logical sense because God is wanting the person to understand that He is the one doing it, not them. Yes, they partner with Him, but He is the one that provided the prophetic word. In order to have a gift or grace (empowerment - charismata is the Greek for gifts of grace) on a person's life, it helps if they realize that it is a gift. It is not theirs. It came from someone else. Yes, God did give it, but it is from Him. So at times, when the gift does not seem to function, it could be that we created an identity out of what He did through us. God would rather have me not be destroyed by my pride and so the other person misses out on how God wanted to bless through me.

Some of this just needs to come back to the place of community. God was not really ever after creating an individualistic society. He's not really trying to get me obsessed with my dream, my destiny, my calling, and my gifting. The Greek New Testament differentiates between second person singular verbs and second person plural verbs (you vs. ya'll). English does not because we read "you" either way. As we read the New Testament in the context of our individualistic society, we can often read the "you" that Paul and other authors use and think it is about me alone - that it is written as a singular you. But most all of the time "you" is written, it is really a "ya'll." Your gift is not about you individually, is best understood in the context of community. Maybe I should repeat that - gifts are about the church being edified, not about a person feeling like they are a prophesying machine.

The real danger comes when creating a spiritual identity out of what God does through me is that pride is just around the corner. What also comes is a lot of pressure. If I take credit for what God does through me, then I have to keep it up. Enter striving. Because then one has to keep up in the flesh what was done by God in the Spirit. All I can say is "good luck to that" to anyone trying.

So much of Bethel Church's (of Redding, CA) focus is to have people see themselves as people that God wants to change the world through. This is absolutely crucial. But it isn't about me trying to work hard to attain a gift - because I can't do it. You can't work hard to produce something that you can't do. However, I have to come to the place where unworthiness, insecurity, inferiority, low self-worth or whatever gets broken off of my life so that I can believe that God wants to work through me to touch the people around me. Typically, these religious ideas hold the supernatural back more than the pride does. But both are out-of-balance. Therefore, it isn't about me becoming a prophesying or healing or whatever machine as much as it is about me not limiting God from touching whoever is in front of me because He loves them and wants to do so through me. The conclusions I come to after God works through me are important. It really isn't about me. Yes, it is so much as I don't turn around and run away from the opportunity to minister or actually believe that God could do something through me. But my focus when ministering really is on the other person because I know that God wants to touch them. I am only a conduit for Him to flow through. So after it is done I get to thank God for how He touched the other person and thank Him for the opportunity to partner with Him. This thanksgiving a) keeps me from pride b) keeps my focus on others instead of self-absorbed c) acknowledges who did the work, etc.

There is this paradox of the Christian life. We are absolutely powerful yet absolutely powerless. The sad thing is that religion makes people powerless when they are actually powerful. So they pray and ask God to help them for things that He gave them authority over. For example, Neil T. Anderson shares (in The Bondage Breaker) about a girl who is being tormented by demons how she prays and asks God to free her but nothing ever changes - Because God gave her authority to command them to leave. God made her powerful. However, she can take authority all day long if God does not actually take care of the situation, there still is nothing she can do. So she is absolutely powerful but absolutely powerless. The same is true with healing. I can take authority over sickness and disease because God gave me (like all Christians) authority. However, I still am absolutely powerless to actually heal a person. This is why healing is not something we attain! I didn't do anything! If God does not change the situation to respond to the authority He wants me to exercise, I am helpless to bring any real change. Many of the greatest breakthroughs that God has let me see in healing have come after coming back to the place of helplessness in knowing that I can't do anything to bring about the breakthrough I am desperate to see God pour out to touch His body, but yet with the understanding that there is no reason why God can not do it through me (oh, I can fast and pray and spend large amounts of time with Him, but if I think this is going to be what changes things, I have become a Pharissee - however, sacrifice DOES draw the fire of God). Often, He lets my love level get to the point that I really could care less if I am involved in bringing about the change - I just desperately want it to occur. And then He moves through me, because my dream was never supposed to be about me - it was supposed to be about love for those in the situation and to actually see it come to pass for their benefit. This is the place where our dream actually brings about contentment. Because if the dream is not rooted in love, it is empty when it actually comes.

This is the source of identity - it is in knowing that I am His child (John 1:12). When I understand whose I belong to, I have discovered the only secure place for my identity. Any other place is subject to change. And to walk in the realization of being his child and not attempting to derive identity or self-worth from another place only comes through ongoing relationship with Him.

Now (just to contradict myself) gifts do come by grace and God obviously still does do things through His body all of the time even when we are not walking in love or have yielded to Him where He purifies our hearts. However, this was more of a debugging post to help those who are wondering why things may not be working so well. The last thing I want is someone to think that God cannot move through them because they do not think that everything in their life is just perfect. And some people can always come up with reasons for why they are disqualified. This too needs to go!