Saturday, December 23, 2006

Powderhouse Church (quite literally)


As I mentioned in a recent post, we toured an old Portuguese island fortress on our recent trip to Florianopolis. The original powder house where gunpowder and ammunition was stored was located high on the hill, behind a large rock outcropping (pictured above). Originally, ship cannons could not aim up or down, they could only shoot straight out and bombard the shoreline, so the ammunition stores were quite safe.

However, with the development of technology, ship cannons were devised that could rotate up and hit higher elevations. Realizing that the powder house was now vulnerable to Spanish attack, and also that the Spanish were devout Catholics who would never bombard a church, the Portuguese came up with an ingenious plan. They built a new powder house in an exposed position and built a facade around it so that it appeared to be a Catholic church. And indeed, the church was never bombarded by the Spanish.

The lesson of the "powder house church" has stuck with me. There are so many possible spiritual applications that it makes this ex-preacher's head spin. Let me give just one:

The real world example of a church full of gunpowder perfectly illustrates what Paul was talking about when he referred to the power we have through the Holy Spirit. One of the Greek words that Paul uses is actually the root word for dynamite. Through the Holy Spirit which Jesus Christ freely gives to all who ask Him, we have the power to cause an explosion of God's Kingdom here on earth. There is no limit to the power we have at our disposal if we allow God's Spirit to truly work in us.

So I ask you, and I ask myself, am I doing everything I can to unleash His power? Am I quenching the Spirit for fear of being labeled extreme, weird, or theologically questionable? Am I grieving the Spirit in some way? Am I being a conduit of the Spirit's power or am I clogging up the pipe? My prayer is that the next time Satan comes to bombard us and our ministry, that it will set off an explosion that will destroy the spiritual barriers around us forever and commence a move of God that will echo for all of eternity.

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