This week Jon talked about the Holy Spirit’s work, specifically though prophesy. He started by interviewing Landrey Mack, who was able to meet up with Penn’s team during the week. There, the students prophesied over him and prayed for him. God spoke to Landrey about serving players on the football team he coaches, as well as other young adults. Acting as a father figure to them, especially for those who don’t have one or for those that have had poor examples.
Jon talked about the book of Zechariah and the message that he had for Zerubbabel. God had tasked Zerubbabel with rebuilding the Temple after a 70-year exile from Jerusalem. The work had almost come to complete standstill, and it can certainly be assumed that Zerubbabel was having some doubts. Zechariah’s message from God for Zerubbabel was from Zechariah 4:7. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. ‘what are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of Grace, grace to it!” God is encouraging Zerubbabel that He will bring down the mountains and that He will complete the Temple.
Jon brought up 1 Corinthians 14:1-4 and highlighted the fact that prophesy must edify, exhort, and console a person for it to be prophesy. He also highlighted the fact that we don’t prophesy like the Old Testament prophets. Mike and Nate Vilardo come up to share about their experiences with Holy Spirit week. They shared how God provided a way for them to get Holy Spirit week during the snow storm and the unfortunate incident in their driveway. God used Mike to share a message to Jon using a documentary he had seen about a 70’s rock band.
The Holy Spirit is at work inside of all of us and sharing a message for someone can really encourage you as well as the person receiving it. Jon ended by pointing out that when you encounter the Holy Spirit you are never the same again.
Pr. Chris kicked off a new series called, Wired: Identity, Belonging and Purpose. In this message, Pr. Chris focused on identity. More specifically, he focused on two questions:
1) who are we as humans, and
2) who am I as a specific person?
To answer the first question, Pr. Chris turned to Genesis 1:26-28 wherein God creates humankind—both male and female—in his image and commissions them to multiply and to rule. In the ancient Near East (ANE)—the world within which and to which Genesis was written—image bearing in connection with ruling was a familiar concept. Not only was ANE cult statues (idols) called the “image of god,” but kings in the ANE were also called the “image of god” and were believed to be the physical embodiment of that city’s god on earth. That is why kings—image bearers—in the ANE were viewed as both rulers and priests. Into this context, Genesis makes the profound claim that there is only one Creator God and that this God has given not just one image bearer, but has created all humanity—both male and female(!)—as his image bearers and has called them rule as both king and priest over the world God has made. They (we) are created to be a kingdom of priests, exercising our creative, God-given capacity to make something of the world. In that way, we are what Pr. Chris called “God look-alikes” (i.e., God’s image-bearers). On this point, Irenaeus is famously quoted as saying, “the glory of God is a human being fully alive.” C.S. Lewis has also made the point that because we are created in God’s image, “there are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
Leading into the second question, Pr. Chris showed that we are not mere reflections in a mirror, like what Simba saw in the Lion King. Instead, as God’s image-bearers, we “function like a prism, refracting the pure light God into a rainbow of cultural activities that scintillate with the creator’s glory throughout the earth.”1 Just as the pure white light is refracted in a prism to reveal the many scintillating colors within, that is how we individually reflect God’s glory as his imago Dei. Another helpful picture that Pr. Chris shared was the Jahori Window (click here to view). It highlights that there are places within us that are hidden from us and fromothers. However, these hidden places are not hidden from God. In fact, God is able to reveal those hidden places through prophetic words of knowledge. Pr. Chris shared about recent experiences that Pr. Jon, Landry, Nate and Mike had where God gave them a prophetic word of knowledge that illuminated something that was hidden. Pr. Chris concluded his message by inviting the LifeNets to try this exercise this week (see #5 below for instructions).
Roy continued this week in the Wired series focusing on Identity. He started by asking if it was biblical for God to have a unique and special identity for us, sharing numerous passages that led to that point. John 1:19-23 and John 1:36, John 1:42; 45-48, Judges 6:1, Acts 13:22, and Jeremiah are all examples of God giving people specific identities. Roy made the point that yes, our identity is in Christ, and as a follower of Christ. But we also have a special identity that God has given to each of us individually.
Roy shared a specific experience he had when someone he didn’t know came up and shared with him that he had the spirit of David. He wasn’t sure that he had heard that right, or if it was real, so he asked God to reveal his identity to him. The next day, another person he didn’t know had a dream and shared it with him. He dreamt the same thing the woman shared before about having a spirit of David.
Our identity in Christ can only be revealed through a revelation from God. It is more than just your career and what you do. Like Clark Kent uses his job as a reporter to better support his real identity as Superman, our jobs and careers our identity in Christ. Roy encouraged us to go and seek after God to find our identity in Christ through seeking God first and not just our identity.
Pastor Jon opened his message by explaining a phrase he heard from Bill Johnson: “If you knew who God made you to be, you wouldn’t want to be anyone else.” The key item to take away from this is the fact that God has made us all unique, which means that we don’t need to compare ourselves to others. It makes sense that the antithesis of belonging is loneliness. At our core, we are wired to want to belong. This is something that God placed within us (1 Peter 2:9). In order to answer the question: “what do you love?” Jon encouraged us to first answer the question: “what do you want?” (John 1:38). Judgement is another key area where Christians tend to struggle at times. Jon helped to simplify this by explaining that “God is better at being God than we are.” He concluded his message by reiterating the question from earlier, “what do you want?”, which he hoped would resonate with us as we begin our weeks at school, work, and in the community.