The most profound session I attended at ARC 2016 in Birmingham was on Tuesday April 19th. Pastor Chris Hodges unveiled some things in scripture that I have never seen before and it was mind blowing.
Pastor Daniel, prior to entering the new year, asked the staff to pray and ask God what one word would be our theme for 2016. Pastor’s word was ‘Increase.’ There were all sorts of words. ‘Confidence,’ ‘Freedom,’ ‘Leadership.’ I prayed for a couple of weeks and the word I couldn’t shake from my mind was ‘Fruitfulness.’ I had my word but admittedly had know idea what that meant. Will my finances be fruitful? Will my ministry be fruitful? Will my spiritual life be fruitful? Will our family be fruitful!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Who knows! But I knew I couldn’t do the same things in 2016 that I did in 2015 and experience this new reality. Things needed to change. Patterns needed to shift. Thoughts needed to be wrestled to the ground and washed with God’s truth. I knew the word, but had no idea how to achieve the word… until Tuesday night.
Pastor Chris Hodges spoke on fruitfulness. Isn’t that like God?!? But he came at it from an angle I wouldn’t have imagined. “God requires intimacy in order for things to multiply,” he said. “Satan’s goal is to get between you and others to stop intimacy.”
There was much more to his message, but that was the crux. And there I had what I thought was the key to unlocking God’s word for me in 2016. I needed to develop true intimacy with fellow believers – transparency in safe groups of people. It is only in exposing ourselves to those who care about us and allowing the same in return, that we are able to grow, develop, and become all that God wants us to be.
I think sometimes we feel that we should be adult enough to figure things out on our own. I think I should be self-sufficient, only needing my relationship with God to make it through the world. It sounds like a good principle. “Jesus is all I need.” But that really isn’t true. If that was the case, then we does the Holy Spirit give Spiritual Gifts in order to EDIFY (build up) the church. Why would God see fit to specifically name a Spiritual Gift of EXHORTATION (to speak to, encourage). Why would God identify everything he created in Genesis 1 as ‘GOOD’ but say that man being alone in Genesis 2 was ‘NOT GOOD.’ Creation was in a ‘NOT GOOD'(Gen 2:18) state until woman came along (COME ON WOMEN!) It is because God has created us to have relationships. We need each other. NEED. It is how God has created us. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24,25.
Before ARC I had an imbalanced equation. ? + ? = Fruitfulness. I didn’t realize it at the time. But after ARC I now see the full picture RELATIONSHIPS + INTIMACY = FRUITFULNESS. I have relationships. Now I know I need to put more of myself into them. Prior, my posture was to simply relate, holding back the real me, the real struggles, the real self. But that is what is keeping me from true fruitfulness. Maybe that is the same for you. Do you have a safe place where you can be you, ask questions, allow others to speak into your life, and you do the same in return? We were never meant to live this life alone. NEVER.