Sunday, June 11, 2006

An Issue of Control

There is quite a debate raging on another blog that I frequent. It is a discussion board that is primarily focused on folks with some sort of connection to the Church of the Nazarene. The thread began when someone posed the question: "Are we scared of the Holy Spirit?" It has meandered through several sub-topics. And one of those is about control.

I won't belabor that thread here. But, it has prompted me to look deeper into my own life and look at the issue of control within my own spiritual life. And then there is the recent series that we have been involved with in both Sunday School and through Worship that has dealt with the issue of Sanctification in the life of a Believer. Again, I won't belabor that.

But I am reminded of the great evangelist and missionary to India, Dr. E. Stanley Jones. Upon being elected as a Bishop in the Methodist Church he declined the election. His reason... He felt a calling on his life and heart to go to India. Dr. Jones said that he heard, "I want you in India." Is that "control" of is it a "sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit?" I certainly prefer to think of it as the Holy Spirit leading me versus the Holy Spirit controlling me.

How easy it would have been to assume that an election to the highest office that his church could confer upon him was the leading of the Holy Spirit. But that was not God's plan for Dr. Jones. Some of us are running ahead of where God is leading us. Some of us lag behind.
My goal is to walk hand in hand with Him as we travel life's journey.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate'er I do, where'er I be
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Joseph H. Gilmore


  1. interesting topic Kevin, is this off of one of the blogs that you have as a link?

    Anyways, I too would agree that we aspire to walk hand in hand with the Spirit, however more often than not jump ahead or fall behind. Just as an example of what I believe: Cherie and I pausing on something due to the Spirits influence. We are working in the outreach program for street kids of Houston, we are working on becoming foster to adopt parents with the hope of adopting. In order for us to be able to do this, we need to pass several home inspections, which we would currently fail. In order to rectify this, it takes money. We were getting ready to take out a second mortgage and do the repairs to the house so we could pass any inspection, however both Cherie and I felt we were being told to wait, pay off some of our other debt before adding to it. This takes patience on our part, because we both dearly want to help these children and adopt. However it would seem the Spirit is guiding us to a better way and means for our future with the child.

    I think we sometimes treat both the Spirit and the devil like the quaterback of a football team, they get to much credit for certain things. Now don't get me wrong, you can not give enough credit to Jesus for good, however taking in account your example, I have no doubt that the man would have been blessed and successful in his church position, all good to the Glory of God, however how much more good for the Kingdom has he done because he followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Only God can answer that, but I would bet (if I was a betting man) on the kingdom was furthered more, by following the Spirit.

    We also tend to give to much credit to the devil for our own stupid choices, but I won't get to much into that, lol.

    The control factor seems to vary all over the place, I think mainly because it is a mystery in how it works. We have an all poweful God who guides us with His spirit and at the same time (at least I believe) we are allowed choices that have consequences both good and bad. I think we as human minds struggle with that, we want clear distinct lines and I don't believe this is clear and I believe it is like that for a reason. For the same reason we are not told the hour He is coming back, I don't believe He wants us knowing how much control He has on our decisions. It is only when we either do have or believe we have control over a choice when He will see what kind of choice we would make, with the knowledge of Him in our lives.

    Well, hope I made some sense, I was mulit-tasking, (eating and typing).

    God bless

  2. Jesus taught us to pray "Lead us..." not "controll us".
    We are to seek, not jump up and down and wait to be swept away.
    Holy Spirit is a comforter and guide. Not a puppet master. When at a charasmatic church it might seem that when Holy Spirit manifests Himself in worship, worshipers loose control. But does Holy Spirit control or seek to control our lives? Not if we truly have free will. But when we choose to turn our lives over to Jesus, we surrender our wills to Him and He guides us to "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done." living.

  3. It's funny you went the direction you did with this post. Originally, when I began reading it, I thought it was going to be about my will to control my life versus the leading of the Holy Spirit...I guess perhaps that's where my mind is and perhaps that points to issues I need to work out. Ha ha.

    Anyway, I find this whole concept of control very intriguing. I do not believe scripture gives us much example in the way of God controlling people (either actions or emotions). Although, it might be fair to say some examples of control (to a limited extent I would argue) would be Act 2. God wasn't controlling what the apostles said, but there appears to be something at work there much more than solely "leading" in the speech they were able to use. But again, my gut feeling is that could probably be argued either way and a good argument could indeed be made that there was no "control" of the Spirit. I would probably come to that conclusion myself, given the time to exegete that properly.

    However, it appears to be the record of scripture that teaches us that we are to control our lives, our tongues, our habits, our minds, our actions. In scripture, I find that Yahweh has a consistent history of wanting humankind to walk with Him as he leads us in our both our spiritual development and in our life's journey.

    I love this quote by the good Dr. E. Stanley Jones you mentioned. I found it in Dallas Willard's Hearing God. Dr. Jones said, "The development of our character, rather than direction in his, that and the other matter, must be the primary purpose of the Father. He will guide us, but he won’t override us. That fact should make us use with caution the method of sitting down with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper to write down instructions dictated by God for the day."

  4. Hey,

    I haven't been actively blogging or surfing for the past few weeks as well, was busy & just fell really sick...I am down with gastric flu & ulcers in the throat that boils me down with fever & pain...

    Yet, I know I am healed in Jesus name, not trying to be...manage to wrote a new entry just on my blog after a long fiasco...pray for me the Devil is trying to deceive me with the pain...

    Thank you for your concern, really appreciate your thoughts!

    May the Lord keep you & bless you!

  5. Scott7:19 PM

    I know this verse is talking about the law, but I think it may apply to this as well. We see in Galatians 5:1
    1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    that we were set free, to then turn and beleive we are being controlled in our actions gives me a funny feeling of, something doesn't sound right there? If we look further in Galatians 5:16-18
    16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

    we see again that we are led, not only that but that we have to forces working in our choices, which one do we follow? If we have no choice of following the Spirit, it makes me wonder what the purpose of the scripture here is, since we would be controlled into it instead?

    Just my 2 cents today, for some reason this popped into my head

  6. Hi..I came across your blog through Godwyn's blog. This discussion you've got going here is nice.

    I think its very difficult to not be in control. Sometimes, when God says "Trust me" we take a lot of time in coming to terms with our natural "what ifs". However thats what faith is to not know all the what ifs...but to let go and let God take control. The real driver must take control in order for the safety of the new when learning to drive...

    Nice blog...God bless

  7. the last poster got me to thinking a little about the analogy we seem to use and one that Carrie Underwood has made quite popular with her song "Jesus Take the Wheel". Handing over control of the car? Is this a good analogy? I am not so sure now. I did a search on scripture for the word control and all results were about self control or keeping your kids in control, not being controlled. I tried the word direct also and the same result. So then I did searches on lead, led and follow. I came up with 103 results (NASB).

    So that got me back to thinking of this analogy and I have one I like more. It is about Him being our guide. WHen I was young, I really enjoyed waking through the woods in my area. I really really enjoyed visiting my grandmas in western Pennsylvania, now those are some woods!! I would go out by myself a lot and I would sometimes get lost. I eventually knew that areas very good around my grandmas houses. I would invite friends to come out to PA with me every now and again from Ohio. We would go out in the woods to be boys, lol. I essentially became the guide in these because I knew where to stay away from, where there were supposed to be dens of rattlesnacks, whose back yard you would probably want to stay away from etc etc. I view the Spirit more in this manor, because He knows the areas where I would want to stay away from and we are asked to simply, follow His lead. We still have the choice of venturing away from the Spirit, and He will be calling us back to the right path the entire time, but He does not block us onto the path, He leads, guides, shows, calls us to the path and we are to follow.

  8. hmmm....(nods off)......does that mean it's time for a new post, rev-kev?

  9. To me it's amazing to think even for a second that a belief exists that God would try to "control" us. Nowhere in scripture does it give any indication thereof and it would be against God's character to do it. If it was in his character, this sin that the world deals with probably would not exist. God wants us to have an obedient and trusting response to his word, not a zombie/robot programmed response.