My bedroom has blackout shades. These marvelous wonders happen to be very attractive, to blend beautifully with the bedroom décor on one side, and on the other are composed as to render them virtually impenetrable to daylight. This is very convenient if one wants to sleep in late or has a migraine and needs to shut out the offensive light. It also creates a cozy sanctuary, far from the maddening crowd, to relax on a slow day and watch TV.
It is a hideaway where we are secure in our belief structure, closed off from distractions, relevant input or inconvenient facts. A comfort zone has tangible parameters whereby we define our politics, faith, relationships or our functional lives. We are happy with these defining ‘survey posts’ which give us an operational paradigm in uncertain times. There is nothing the matter with a spiritually cozy, safe-haven provided that it is built on the Rock and securely woven in truth. That’s the place you want to be.
It has been my observation that often Believers are living ,breathing and operating in a cocoon, wrapped in gossamer threads of partial doctrine: I believe in Jesus. I am saved. I am going to heaven. They have willingly, gratefully embraced Jesus as their “Lord” and stopped right there. Thus ensconced, they want to think no further or delve into the” teach, preach, signs and miracle” example Jesus left. Secured safely, they pull down the light-blocking shades and relax. They have taken what they want from Christianity; The bits that make them feel good and perpetuate the Love and message of Jesus. So far as that goes, there is nothing wrong with that philosophy. It is however, only a good starting point.
It seems not to bother anyone that the Holy Spirit has been left on the porch like an abandoned baby or a red-headed step child. The Third and equal partner of the Trinity is waiting for you to want more, to pick Him up, lovingly invite Him in so he can share with you all that He has to offer! Too often, the mystical power source has been shunted aside as the embarrassing equivalent of Jesus’ distant relative. We give Him that reluctant nod of recognition but, honestly, don’t want to get to know Him at all.
I know this cocoon. I lived a long time in this cocoon. It was a great place to hang out. I was raised in a Protestant background that taught that yes, the Holy Spirit was definitely real and necessary. I was assured, by a variety of sources, that the Holy Spirit was fully realized in my life the moment that I came to belief in Christ and that this was all that was expected or needed.
It was a one stop shop. Any “out of control”, goofy, spiritual manifestations which may have dropped out of heaven after Jesus’ crucifixion at Pentecost causing folks to evangelically speak in tongues or to be “slain in the spirit”- or anything else whacky, were definitely NO LONGER necessary. We like our expected hymns, we like our comfortable, orderly sermons, we like to sit in the same place in our comfortable pews and we like to take and define God on our terms. Thank you, Lord for the Salvation work but, we will navigate all else on our own wherewithal!
At the risk of beating this big important drum too often: Is it any wonder that many Believers have no knowledge or expectation of physical or mental healing when they have never seen it happen or have heard no regular testimonies of such happenings in their congregations? It should come as no surprise that Christians find themselves in similar serious addictions, behaviors and bondage as our unsaved neighbors. We explained away the power source that is intended to be used to break those chains and fight those battles. Where spiritual gifts of the person of the Holy Spirit are not valued or understood–where the Holy Spirit who leads us in all truth is neither expected nor respected, can we honestly expect Him to linger? Limited belief and dependence on the Holy Spirit will,undoubtedly, reap minimal fruit of the Spirit. As we read thru the book of Acts we see time and again that it is a separate step from belief and acceptance of Christ Jesus. Acts 19:2, Acts 2:37
Lest the folks, that like me have never been taught this information, be angered or shocked and misunderstand what I am trying to say. Let me be very clear: I am NOT saying that Jesus is not enough. I am not saying that you or the folks in your church are not saved. Jesus is God. Holy Spirit is God. Jesus came in the flesh, as the Messiah as the sacrifice to make you righteous before God. Now, He, Jesus, manifests himself to you in the person of the Holy Spirit to empower you to live the life that he saved you for. How can we grow to become the warriors He needs us to be if we are unwilling to fully embrace who He is?
Protestant ministers have,largely, bought into the church doctrine that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is passé because we have the Bible (now complete) and all those original disciples are long dead . They, back in the day, definitively needed those Spiritual, hocus- pocus gifts and manifestations of the Spirit but we are so wise and well-grounded that we do not. Friends, this is slippery, prideful territory we step into as we begin to cherry-pick which pillars of our faith are critical and which are optional. It is also difficult to make accurate decisions regarding what you are missing spiritually when you have never received it, seen it or known that it was still in operation. (1 Tim. 4:1, Romans 15:13)
Stay with me here, as this is a big hang up for many Believers, it certainly was for me. Some Christian brothers and sisters are bothered , offended or uncomfortable if they see people, on TV or in a service, become totally overwhelmed by the Spirit. Perhaps they shake or fall to the ground. Apparently, these bothered Believers never stop to consider that the Presence of the God we worship should change the atmosphere dramatically! When the Power of God shows up people will not/ cannot be the same! It happened that way in scripture and it is still true today. Acts 2
Therefore, let me gently suggest that if you have spent a lifetime in a formal denomination you will definitely be shocked by the difference found in a meeting where the anointing is heavy and the worship is profound. The first chapter of Genesis and the entire Book of Acts tells us that it is the nature of Holy Spirit to move. When He moves, you will feel it. It was this very power source that raised Jesus from the dead! Rather than being repulsed or skeptical of the working nature and power that accompany the Holy Spirit when we see it, shouldn’t our response, instead, be, “Wow, maybe I don’t know everything! Maybe…just maybe, I need to come into His Presence MORE often so that His personality doesn’t seem so strange to me.” Or, at the very least,” Let me check out the Word of God and make sure that this is Biblical.”
Are there people who have a “Charismatic” or healing ministry that is sketchy, fake, or out to make a buck? Are there people who for some inexplicable reason fabricate a “Word of Knowledge” or feign speaking in tongues? Sure! There are nutty people everywhere that misbehave. Also, everything God does, the devil tries to rip off and counterfeit. There will always be disreputable folks in every facet of life from hinky used-car salesmen to career politicians. I once had a professor put the moves on me. I didn’t drop out of college and forsake any further learning. I just told him, no thanks. One time I went to the movies and sat behind a family where their gaggle of raggedy children acted up throughout the entire show…that did not prevent me from ever going to the movies again, nor did it dissuade me from raising well- behaved daughters. Likewise, reports of bad brokers have not prevented me from making investments and contributing to my 401K . Wagon loads of lying politicians have not kept me from voting and the pursuit of finding more qualified replacements.
We must keep it scriptural. It may seem totally foreign from what I am accustomed to and I don’t have to totally understand it all, at this point in time. The nature of God is totally foreign to me, anyway. The more I know Him, the better the relationship, the more comfortable I will be in His presence. I just have to have a desire for MORE of the God. He tells me that if I seek more of Him I will find it. (Matt 7:7) My comfort zone is just a zone. We can’t stay in a cocoon forever! The Holy Spirit intended for you to be changed and transformed. Be a butterfly! The very purpose of the Christian experience is wholesale change, is it not? I, as a Christian need to be obedient as well as grounded in the Word.(2 Tim 2:15) My spiritual high-water mark must be: I want to be Christ-like. Therefore, what did Jesus say and what did he do. What was the context when he was teaching this… and how did his original team in turn, extrapolate and teach this to their disciples? That should be our standard in every generation. If I am made uncomfortable by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit I need to pray about that! It is my problem. The Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us in all truth, convict us of sin and to promote Jesus. He is there to give us understanding and to help and empower and edify the body of Christ. If you are not seeing some sort of manifestation of the Holy Spirit in your life or in your congregation THAT is the problematic, serious, sad, creepy issue that really should be bothering you and prayerfully, keeping you awake nights!
No one, and I repeat NO ONE, likes to think that they are the perpetrators of false doctrine. However, if we are teaching, preaching or believing anything that varies from that original example then chances are good that we have gone off track and we may need to go to the source and start over . That, if you recall was the purpose of many of the letters Paul wrote to the early church! If you have allowed one verse to be taken out of context or twisted out of whack then you need to go back to the source, and start over. If we find that we have neglected this vital, ordained stepping stone, it is OK to pray and ask for the Baptism of the Spirit. (Acts 2:39, Acts 19:2) That’s what I did and lots of others, too. It changed my life and important stuff started happening from that point onward! Somehow, this basic, mainline, important teaching has been relegated to the lunatic fringe and it needs to be flipped! It must all be turned back to the First Century, Hebraic roots. It is really, really important if you want to grow.
After nearly 60 years of human existence I can truthfully say that I don’t like change or to feel uncomfortable and I like to have , at least, the illusion of control at all times! While I can own those feelings ought I allow my discomfort to totally disengage and alienate me from the source of unbelievable power and blessing that the Lord intended me to have and use? Once saved, our job is only just begun. How can we possibly hope to endure any hardship or persecution, build one another up, keep ourselves physically and spiritually healthy and fight supernatural battles when we have isolated ourselves from the Glory of God?
If we remain, passively, in congregations with leadership that is resistant to yielding to the power and high purpose of that Salvation then we ARE condoning the teaching of partial truth. Partial truth is not Truth! We are like the Laodicean Church of Revelations 3:14-22- neither hot nor cold -and will no doubt suffer her sad fate. We can’t, in tepid, cocoon fashion, take the salvation part of this message that we embrace enthusiastically and at the same time sideline the Holy Spirit because His unfamiliar power makes us uncomfortable !
The body of Christ cannot abide the continuing stasis of a cocoon phase. We have a mission. Without the person of the Holy Spirit we cannot get our job done. If you swallow the idea that only the teaching, preaching, evangelism or”office” gifts of Ephesians 4:11-12 are still valid, then you have bought into the satanically inspired lie( also known as false doctrine) that God doesn’t need to speak to you or others with Words of Wisdom or Knowledge; He has no NOW words to send in dreams or to others with a message in another language. If Satan can deceive or spook you into never receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit then he can rob you of the special prayer language which Paul claims as a critical part of the Armor of God which you are instructed to put on. You need this to communicate on a totally different level than you can without a personal prayer language. (The demonic world cannot understand you when you are speaking in a prayer language, by the way.) Again, you don’t have to understand it all at this moment in time. You just need to trust that the Lord set this all up for your best and highest purpose so he can communicate and empower his children and heirs. Obedience is rarely found in one’s comfortable cocoon.
Ministry Leadership Resource publishes disturbing statistics say that 80% of Seminary and Bible School graduates will leave the ministry in the first 5 years. 1500 pastors leave the ministry every month.90% of pastors polled say that their schooling did only a fair job in preparing them for the rigors of full-time ministry. 80% of Pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role. Perhaps this can all be traced to a wholesale abandonment of the need for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit! Pastors are running on empty! While well-intentioned they are in critical need of an infusion of His Oil. Without Holy Spirit anointing, no matter how well- educated, these leaders are arriving only half- dressed for the battlefield. Undoubtedly, they deeply love Jesus, and desire to spread that gospel message. These Godly men are burning out, falling prey to moral failures and depression because they haven’t understood that without embracing THE power of the Holy Spirit they cannot stand on the battlefield. It is difficult for any of us to admit that we have, with best intentions and pure motives, drifted from Jesus’ instruction and first Church practice, and need to repent and re-evaluate.
We live in very serious times. I don’t slow down and quibble over small stuff. This topic is HUGE! If you don’t have this Holy Spirit thing straight, everything else in your Christian life will be cattywhompus! We are needed on the battlefield, we are needed in the fields of harvest. We must unwrap and evaluate the full substance of our tight cocoons and make sure everything is in total alignment with the Word. Are our familiar doctrinal pillars based in Biblical truth or are they merely church doctrine that has ooched away from Christ’s example and teaching over the generations? Fruit production is the best test. Additionally, it is constructive to ask these plumb-line questions: Are you sitting in a congregation where the Presence of the Holy Spirit is not welcome or even recognized? Are you EVER seeing spiritual gifts as described in 1 Corinthians 12 in action in your congregation or Bible study groups? Have you received any teaching on how to discern your own spiritual gifts? This one is convicting: Are your tithes and offerings being used to perpetuate partial truth that continues to emasculate the true purpose and calling card of Christianity? Is your leadership keeping you abreast of Biblical Prophecy as it is being fulfilled and preparing you for the coming end times? Those seeking everything the Lord has to offer in these turbulent times needs to be asking blunt questions. If you don’t like the answers it may be time to make a move, find or start a full-gospel body where the Name of Jesus is preached and the Holy Spirit is present, welcome and accounted for!
* Authors note: I encourage readers to review the page on this site called Holy Spirit 101. I plan to keep this Cocoon post as a permanent page called Holy Spirit 102! This is an important study and I encourage you to read the book of Acts several times thru without the benefit of notes or commentary as it speaks eloquently for itself. Additional interesting scriptures: John 20:21.22 John 16:23, John 16:13, John 16:7-8, John 15, John 14:26, Galatians 5: 16-22, Mark 16:15. Matt 28:19, Titus 3:5, Acts 2:38, Romans 8:9,26, 1 John 5:7, Matt 3:11, Luke 11:13, Acts 16:6, 1 Cor. 2:10, March 3:29, 1 Thess 1:6, Romans 8:11, 1 Peter 4:10, 1 Cor 12. There are many more but this should keep you busy until we meet again!