"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I am going to My Father, and you will see Me no more; and of judgment, because the ruler of this world stands condemned.
"I have yet many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come" (John 16:7-13).
Jesus also warned his disciples to beware of the "leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees," which is hypocrisy and denial of the supernatural, but his admonition has not been heeded in much of church history. Some churches and even denominations have ignored the promise of the Holy Spirit sent to dwell in all believers. Jesus said it was "good" that He was leaving. Obviously, one who could dwell within millions of people simultaneously could transform mankind far more effectively than could a single, wandering minister of truth.
It is encouraging to see many in the church celebrating the advantages of the Holy Spirit's indwelling, turning to Him in supplication, seeking advice, power for healing and answers to life's complexities. Jesus said without Him, we could do nothing. Jesus did not lie! The Advocate arrived as promised and remains with us, faithfully responding to all who seek him in sincerity.
In recognition of our need for Him, seeking to fill a spiritual vacuum that results when we ignore Him, a Holy Spirit ministry given the name Sozo has grown from its birthing 21 years ago in California to encompass the globe. While most Sozo ministers follow foundational teachings and seek to partner closely with the Holy Spirit, a few badly misuse and abuse the "Sozo tools" through ignorance or in search of personal gain. How should the rest of us react to this situation? Where is truth?
The answer to the question is obvious. "I'll look into it and test it for myself! Rather than take the scattered words of others, I'll go to the source and then draw a conclusion, form an opinion based on personal experience, simultaneously asking the Holy Spirit for His wisdom regarding the Sozo ministry."
This writer did just that. I signed up for a Sozo session, two of them, in fact. A third session, called an Art Sozo, was especially intriguing. I have long taken advantage of the Holy Spirit's indwelling, but found the sessions inspiring and memorable, ever deepening an already maturing relationship with God. I then sat in on a couple of sessions as an observer, and was astounded to see people who had been Christians for decades react in surprise to the news that they could speak with the Advocate and He would respond!
William Kline, a long-time former pastor at Rez Church in Loveland, Colorado, somewhat over a year ago launched a regional Loveland-based Sozo ministry, independent of any formal connections with the organized church. However, he maintains relationships of accountability with many pastors in Northern Colorado. Pastor Kline has done this to maintain the integrity of the Sozo movement, freeing the program from possible outside influence on the practice, spread and integrity of his group's strictly Bible-based teachings.
As a result, Pastor Kline has cooperated with the Holy Spirit in bringing a remarkable, foundationally-solid form of Sozo to the Catholic Church and to varied congregations in the Denver area, along with many traditional Protestant groupings. Some secular rehabilitation organizations have also invited the program into their restorative processes. Indeed, the ministry's influence has spread across the mountain states under Pastor's Kline's commission as regional facilitator of the ministry/movement.
Returning to the subject of Art Sozo ministry specifically, it is intriguing because few Christians look at creativity as something God gives them as a means of expressing their love of their Maker. I have been gifted in some ways, but I too never considered artistic expression as a form of worship and connection until I tried an Art Sozo. In understanding the ministry, it's best likened to singing or dancing before the Lord. In worshipping the author of our souls, all humans respond in various ways and forms of emotional and devotional expression. Some play musical and/or percussionist instruments, while others close their eyes and sway rhythmically. Some shout loudly and laugh joyously. Some write books and articles for others to enjoy.
Frequently overlooked is the fact that many also find a refreshingly new and deepening relationship with God through drawings and artwork. I tried it on my own and found it to be liberating. While meditating on the Lord, as my hands moved about in selecting and forming shapes, colors and patterns, I had a strong sense of working out a good and acceptable yielding of my will, soul and body under leadership of the Holy Spirit.
I personally do not believe emotionally expressive behavior is anything but pleasing to the author of joy, celebration and thanksgiving. Neither do I think staid, non-expressive traditions are anything but pleasing to the Lord.
It all comes down to a matter of how we interpret Paul's instructions for our gatherings, advising us to conduct them in good order when meeting in Jesus' name. Indeed, as in politics, believers sometime go to extremes with matters spiritual. Consider also the actions of the many who pull away fully from foundational teachings of the gospel. The formation of new religions and associated assemblies on a global basis has always been with us, as Jesus predicted.
The best course of action is to turn away from that which offends us and just move on. The greater danger is to let our distaste become hate-filled and abusive, even doing the work of the accuser, causing division, strife and drawing judgment to our houses for refusing to turn the other cheek and, in the process, discarding the command to love all neighbors as ourselves.
Anyone seeking more information on the Sozo program or advice on start-ups can contact William (Bill) Kline at 970-616-0012 or via email at Sozocolorado@gmail.com.
Ronald D. Mallett of Milliken, Colorado, studied journalism and mass communications at Colorado and Stanford Universities as a Ford Fellow. A retired corporate executive, he was director of jail and prison, Mexico outreach and intercession ministries for 19 years.
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