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A report from the stirred conference

The weather is brisk here in Gainesville, but the spiritual temperature in the big tent at our training center is hot! Here’s some stuff I said to kick off the Stirred Conference:   Stirred is an interesting name for a conference. We go to a performance and if it’s good, we might say th…
By Seth Barnes
The weather is brisk here in Gainesville, but the spiritual temperature in the big tent at our training center is hot! Here’s some stuff I said to kick off the Stirred Conference:
 
Stirred is an interesting name for a conference. We go to a performance and if it’s good, we might say that it was “stirring.” The play was stirring.  We might also call it rousing. We get roused from our sleep. We get stirred from our slumber.  We stir up the gifts in one another. “Stirred” makes me think of either my mom with an apron on cooking in the kitchen, or else James Bond at the bar asking for a martini.  He wanted his shaken, not stirred. And the line made me think about what the difference is and how many of us showed up here wanting to be stirred, but really hoping to be shaken.

I think I’m in the “stirred” camp – I really want God, but don’t slam me around spiritually. Rather, swirl me gently like cream in coffee. I’m hungry to touch God, but I’d prefer it if he just blew on me a bit.

It poses a question – just how hungry for God are we? Do we trust him enough to do more than just stir us? Does he have permission to shake us? I remember at an AIM staff conference about ten years ago when a staff member’s wife gave an unsettling message. “God’s going to do a shaking,” she said.

And he did. I had such a headache after that meeting. I personally felt like he’d shaken me like a rag doll and then things got shaken in the ministry after that. I’ve felt that way multiple times in my life – usually after getting fired. It was after God did a shaking in my life that I started AIM. It was after I was shaken in my marriage that I began to hear the voice of God. It was after being shaken in the ministry that I began pressing into discipleship. Shaking produces fruit, but I’d rather be stirred.

Actually, it occurs to me that maybe we should have called this something further down the hunger continuum than “Stirred.”
 
When the earthquake hit Haiti, the Haitian pastors felt their
country was receiving Hebrews 12:26-27, “At that time his voice shook
the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the
earth but also the heavens.’ Only what could not be shaken remained.” And then God talks about consuming with fire.
 
Based on that passage, here’s how I see God responding to our hunger – maybe in four levels.

Stagnant      The default level where most of us trend toward. We set the agenda. We’re on autopilot.
Stirred          We feel him moving in our lives. We feel his touch. He meets our hunger.
Shaken         God turns us upside down. He messes with the order in our lives, moving furniture around.
Consumed    God visits us, pays us a call. We make an exchange – my reality for his.

Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31 Peter, “Satan has asked for you, that he
may sift you as wheat”. To sift means: To shake as in a sieve.

A shaking is God messing with your stuff. It’s him auditing your life.

What does it mean for God to mess with us? It means he re-orders our sense of control. We can invite him to mess with us or else watch as he breaks down the front door to our tidy homes and begins to mess with us unilaterally. Thinking about that can put you on edge. Who wants to give up control? Just think about your life and look at your fingerprints all over it.

Your finances, schedule, social networks, health. There’s the esteem of others and how you seek to manage that. There’s the pain in your life and the way you manage that. We take our experience and we think it’s normative. We see others living differently and we find it easy to judge them. We make comfortable nests and then we feather them with our judgments and control.

Consumed
But there’s another level altogether with God. It’s when he consumes you. Yesterday as I was running, the clouds were gathering and a light sprinkle started. It made the run enjoyable. I guess that’s kind of like being stirred. But then it picked up and began to really come down. I ran faster toward home. And the wind began whipping and the rain absolutely drenched me. It was a great picture of what it means to be consumed. Some of you need to be consumed by the glory of God.

It happened to me as we were praying about Haiti for the first time. He started with my compassion and when I let him take hold of that in prayer, he moved to my spirit and touched me there in a way that only a lover can, and then he popped the lid off of my sense of decorum and lit me up with a flood of grieving for his people. His Spirit needed a human being to find expression and I just happened to make myself available.

And I think I hear God saying, “I didn’t create you for nest-living. Sure nests are fine, but I created you to dance across the floor with me. So, I’m going to mess with you. I’d like to stir a little of the supernatural into your reality. I’d really like to shake loose some of your control issues. I’d love to dance with you and sweep you off your feet if you’d let me.”

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