After I completed my coursework for graduate school, I served on the staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. I began as the Director of College Ministries and ended up as the Associate Pastor for Educational Ministries. During my seven years on the staff of Hollywood Presbyterian, I had the privilege of working for Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, the church’s senior pastor. Lloyd was not just my boss, but also my inspiration and mentor. I learned more from him about being a pastor than I have from any other person.
Lloyd Ogilvie believed in God’s power, not just in principle, but as an active force in our lives. In our staff meetings, he would often say something like this: “What might you do if you really believed that God was here to help you? What would you attempt for his kingdom if you truly believed that God’s own Spirit lived within you to empower you?” As a person with a strong pragmatic orientation, I was challenged by Lloyd’s questions. He encouraged me to remember that “my ministry” wasn’t really mine, but the Lord’s, and that the power of the living God was there to help me serve him in supernatural ways.
I don’t remember if Lloyd ever quoted Psalm 108:13 to us, but he certainly could have. This verse affirms, “With God’s help we will do mighty things.” The Hebrew reads more literally, “With God we will do mightiness” or “In God we will do strength.” When we are in relationship with the living God, when God’s own Spirit dwells within us, then we will be able to do far more than we might ever have imagined.
I’m reminded of a passage I often used in my preaching at Irvine Presbyterian Church, and with this I will close: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Let me ask you the questions Lloyd Ogilvie used to ask my colleagues and me: “What might you do if you really believed that God was here to help you? What would you attempt for his kingdom if you truly believed that God’s own Spirit lived within you to empower you?”
PRAYER: Thank you, gracious God, for the encouragement of our Word today. Thank you for the reminder that you are with me, and that you can do great things for your kingdom through me.
I confess, Lord, that I often live as if I were on my own. I trust in my own strength and little more. I attempt only that which seems prudent. Forgive me for failing to remember you, for not living out the reality of your presence in my life.
Help me, O God, to live today, and every day, in light of the truth that you are with me, dwelling in me by your Spirit, empowering me to live for you with boldness and strength. Amen.