Archive for category Holy Spirit
The goal for this week was to cover two chapters, but we only made it through chapter 8. I suppose it was a little ambitious to try and cover chapters 8 and 9, but 9 will just have to wait until next week.
In verse 1, the author is again referencing Psalm 110, a Messianic Psalm which the author has referenced repeatedly throughout the book of Hebrews. And he or she says:
Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. Hebrews 8:1-2 (NASB)
The high priest, who is also the Messiah, has taken his place in Heaven and in the true tabernacle. This is the end of the need for sacrifices. The high priest has now entered the heavenly sanctuary and is now the mediator of a better covenant, the old now being obsolete.
So that it is clear, this is not a reference to the Abrahamic land grant covenant, but to the Mosaic covenant. Until the high priest became the mediator of the new covenant, the law was written in stone. Now the laws are in the hearts and minds of the believers.
This principle actually led to the liveliest discussion of the evening in our effort to determine when and how this imprinting upon the hearts and minds takes place. Does it occur upon becoming a believer, at baptism, during the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Without reaching definite conclusions, I think the general consensus was that (1) the Holy Spirit is the mechanism, and (2) it happens when the Holy Spirit becomes activated by faith in Jesus (which we also believed was distinct from the baptism in the Holy Spirit – which could happen simultaneously, but doesn’t always, or even usually).
We again were landed with a ministry opportunity which consumed a fair amount of the time, but the tradeoff was well worth it.
I just wanted to share this sermon on walking with the Holy Spirit. It is one of the best sermons on the Holy Spirit I’ve heard in a long time (and from a Baptist preacher, no less).
I think our mindset is backward. We think we (1) meet Jesus, (2) get saved, and (3) progress into the things of the Spirit, when it is the power of the Holy Spirit that can enable our walk with Jesus from the beginning if we allow it.
Disclaimer: We attended this church (Beltway Park Baptist Church) for a few years, and absolutely loved it. We attended through a satellite campus which closed, so we found a local church. Enjoy!
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The web is full of stuff that churches do wrong, and a lot of it is probably right on. What disturbs me more, however, is our collective quickness to point out everyone else’s flaws, when we all have them.
If I am publicly critical of one of the flaws in the church, it is the church’s willingness to divide the body. So, rather than perpetuating division, I want to point out a few things churches do right.
I’ve taken the top 10 Christian denominations according to a The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/US Religious Landscape Survey and want to give them each a pat on the back for one thing each does right. Note: I haven’t distinguished so finely as between “Evangelical” and “Mainline,” or this sub-group and that.
Denomination (% of US population) – The good stuff:
1. Catholics (approx. 24%) – Disclaimer: I was born and raised Catholic, and a large part of my family is still Catholic. Catholics do “reverence” better than any other Christian denomination. I prefer a more contemporary, laid back worship service, but I have a great deal of respect for the reverence Catholics give to the Church buildings, altars, services, and rites. They get that God is holy, and we should approach Him that way.
Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I (am) holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NAB).
2. Baptists (approx. 13%) – Disclaimer: I was “saved” while a member of a Baptist Church (Beltway Park) a few years ago, and I wouldn’t trade my time in that Baptist Church for anything. Baptists do “numbers” better than anybody else right now. They keep the calculators in heaven busy with the newly saved. Baptists get mission work and know how to evangelize.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
3. Methodists (approx. 6%) – Disclaimer: I graduated from a Methodist university (Southwestern University); the connection was tenuous but important. The Methodists were charismatic before charismatics were cool. The Methodists once did mission work better than anyone else. Now, Methodists bridge gaps better than anyone – gaps between traditional and modern, fundamental and progressive, liturgical and extemporaneous. Methodists get inclusion.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)
4. Lutherans (approx. 4.6%) – Obviously, Lutherans have historically done “grace” and “reformation” better than most. They do doctrine, confessions and creeds well. We should all have such well articulated beliefs. Lutherans get that you should be able to articulate and defend what you believe.
He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1:9 (NRSV)
5. Non-denominational (approx. 4.5%) – Disclaimer: I currently attend a non-denominational church (Emmanuel Fellowship Church). Non-denominationalists do “worship” better than anyone. They let loose and worship shamelessly. Hands raised, banners waiving, and dancing in the aisles. Every church service is a party. Non-denominationalists get that God is to be worshiped.
Then David danced before the LORD with all his might…
Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. 2 Samuel 6:14, 21-22 (NKJV)
6. Pentecostals (approx. 3.5%) – Pentecostals do Holy-Spirit religion better than anyone else. They understand that we are spiritual beings first and foremost, and that we should live in a state of communion with the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals get that the gospel has to be presented not only in word but in power.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)
7. Presbyterians (approx. 2.7%) – Presbyterians do education well. I would guess that, per capita, Presbyterians are probably the most educated group of believers. Presbyterians get that you don’t have to check your intellect at the church door.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the minds of fools. Proverbs 15:7 (NRSV)
8. Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (approx. 2.4%) – Christian Churches and Churches of Christ do discipline and perseverance like no one else. I don’t think I know a more committed and determined lot. They get that the Christian life is a marathon not a sprint, something many Christians lose sight of.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
9. Anglicans/Episcopalians (approx. 1.7%) – Anglicans and Episcopalians embrace diversity. This is not true for a lot of the Christian church, and it should be. There is, after all, a common thread which should bind all of us. Anglicans get that the body needs all of its component parts.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; Revelation 5:9 (AV)
10. Holiness Churches (approx. 1%) – Holiness churches do non-conformity well. They actually try to live what many Christians profess. They get that an encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit should be a life-changing encounter.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
On the whole, it sounds like a body of Christ I want to be a part of. Now, if we could get all of the component parts working in unison.
NOTE: My readers know that I allow and respond to virtually all comments and criticisms, but not on this post. If you leave a comment critical of a Christian denomination, please know it will be deleted. I know charismatics can take things too far, and I know other denominations can be legalistic. I get it. None of us are perfect, and there will be plenty of time and opportunity to discuss the problems later. You are, as always, certainly free to criticize me or my positions, but not the other members of the body. Not this time.
The kids learned about “Postures of Praise” (kneeling, laying down, hands raised, etc.). The sessions were dancing, soaking and games. The reports about what some of the kids (and a few adults) experienced during the soaking time were pretty amazing.
One thing our pastor continually reminds us is that children do not get a “junior” Holy Spirit, and, even though I was already convinced of this before this week, I am thoroughly convinced of this now.
To date, I have avoided this debate because I find myself in something of a dilemma by my entry. However, earlier this week I was thrust in the middle of Jim’s and Matt’s discussion, so, against my better judgment, here goes:
First, the dilemma: I agree with Matt in spirit, but I agree with Jim intellectually (or, perhaps, in the flesh). I frequently have a similar response to Jim’s when discussing legal matters with non-lawyers. For example, non-lawyers rarely appreciate why incriminating evidence should ever be excluded from a criminal trial. They often fail to appreciate that the only way to protect the rights of the innocent is to protect the rights of the guilty. Lawyers just assume non-lawyers don’t “get it.”
As do, I’m sure, doctors in matters of medicine, plumbers in matters of plumbing, and Bible scholars in matters of Biblical studies. We are a culture of experts, and expertise is a commodity. So, we guard our expertise carefully, and justifiably so.
The issues I see vis-a-vis Biblical studies, however, are:
1. To some extent, all Christians are charged with being Bible experts. Not that we are, but we should be?
2. Jesus didn’t set up recruiting tables at the top Yeshivas. He picked fishermen, among others. As far as I can tell, Paul is the closest thing to an Old Testament scholar among the bunch, and he came much later.
3. It’s the duty of the church to equip the saints. If there are shortcomings among the saints, it is the church’s fault. I realize there are plenty of half-cocked saints who think they can get saved one day and start a church the next, but doesn’t that just exemplify the problem?
4. If one is called to teach at a seminary, then I would think a Ph.D would and should be required. If one is called as an evangelist, for example, I don’t necessarily see the point. In my opinion, the greatest evangelist of the 20th Century was Billy Graham, and Derek Prince the greatest theologian. Neither had a post-grad in anything Biblical, and it would be hard to argue with their results.
5. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, no number of post-nominal letters will make a bit of difference in ministry. And even with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, no one without a string of letters after their name will ever have academic credibility. So what? It is all just another way of dividing the Body of Christ. The Church needs Ph.D.’s, and the Church needs plumbers. The local DIY handyman pastor is not a threat to Joe the plumber, nor is the local Bible thumping cowboy preacher a threat to Joe the Ph.D.
In short, credentials are essential, but only for that for which they are essential. The lack of credentials is irrelevant, except in circumstances where credentials are required.
I have spent my entire life tied to the education system (whether as a student, grad student, adjunct faculty member, or married to and mothered by teachers). In that time I have met brilliant scholars (even religious scholars) who I wouldn’t dare ask for spiritual advice. I have also met remarkable spiritual leaders (sans letters) who I wouldn’t dare ask for legal advice.
Honestly, it all seems like much ado about nothing. I applaud Jim for defending his turf, and I applaud Matt for defending his. Keep up the good work gentlemen. Now, can we all hang out and have a drink?
You can read the back-and-forth here:
Others have written on the subject and didn’t insinuate me into the discussion, so I have not included them. Anyone who has posted on the subject, please leave a link in the comment section.
I know that we all come across passages in scripture we have read numerous times, and then one day we read it again and say, “What? I never knew that was in there…”
This is my latest of those:
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. Hebrew 6:4-6 (NKJV)
Does this really say what I think it says?
Last month, my wife and I were fortunate enough to spend time at Bethel Church in Redding, CA at a children’s pastors’ conference. While there and in the days immediately following, I wrote a series of short posts about the trip.
Our first night home, I had a remarkable dream. In my dream, I could see what appeared to be an enormous glass or crystalline train station. However, the “trains” that were zipping in and out were unlike any train I had ever seen. They were like bullet trains, or enormous silver cylindrical bullets.
The destinations of these bullets that were coming and going were not cities, however, they were nations (Israel, China and India were the three that I recall specifically, although there were many others).
The station was no typical train station, either. It was actually more like an airport because the bullet trains whizzed in and out in all directions continually and with amazing speed.
Right about this time, my dream was interrupted by my dog Oliver who needed to be let out. I knew this was a dream I would need to remember, so I desperately prayed for the dream to pick up where it left off.
I couldn’t fall asleep, so I prayed for the interpretation. Now, the interpretation will make little sense to my readers unfamiliar with the goings on of our church (Emmanuel Fellowship Church), but my pastor asked that I write this so that he could link to it from his blog.
The train station is what our prayer center (Sweetwater Prayer Center) was, or has the potential to be, in the spiritual realm. And the bullet trains were the prayers going forth from the prayer center, and those that were returning.
One of our pastor’s goals is that someone from every nation in the world will pray in the Sweetwater Prayer Center. A means by which we can accomplish this goal is for our church members to pray for those nations and pray those leaders here, as well as for our members to go there.
I envisioned every church member praying for a specific nation or nations. I think part of our mission must be to bring sweet water to the nations. At the end of 2 Samuel 12, Joab sends word to King David that he (Joab) had taken the city of Rabbah’s water supply, and that David should come and take the city lest Joab receive the credit.
We need to pray to take water supplies. For a given city or nation it could be the government, for another the education system, for another the actual water supply. In so doing, we can actually replace the stagnant water supplies with fresh, sweet water, and invite King Jesus in to take the nation and receive the credit.
This is not only how we can heal and make disciples of all nations, but keep our rivers, lakes and water supplies full as well.
Admittedly, I wrote this in my newly-saved days, in response to all of the email forwards I was getting. But I thought it was pretty funny then, and I happened across it today, and I still think it’s pretty funny:
The Lord’s House Bill No. 0001
AN ACT of the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, relating to the distribution, dissemination, and/or duplication of electronic message transmittals (e-mails) the subject of which is, involves, or in any manner relates to the Lord God Almighty, the Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the believers and followers thereof, and/or any combination thereof.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY THAT:
The HOLY BIBLE, OLD COVENANT and NEW COVENANT, the Books of THE EXODUS, Chapter 20; THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MATTHEW, Chapter 34; and THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MARK, Chapter 12 are hereby amended as follows:
THE EXODUS, Chapter 20:1. And God spoke all these words:
20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
20:6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
20:11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
20:13 “You shall not murder.
20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.
20:15 “You shall not steal.
20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
20:18 “You shall not delete any e-mail you receive concerning me or my kingdom and you shall immediately forward same to all of your neighbors.
20:18 20:19 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance Ex 20:19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW, Chapter 22:34. Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.
22:35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 22:38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
22:39 And tThe second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
22:40 And the third is: ‘Forward all e-mails you receive about me and my Father to all your neighbors that you may prove your love.’
22:4022:41 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two three commandments.”
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK, Chapter 12:28. One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
12:29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
12:31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
12:32 The third is this: ‘Forward all e-mails you receive about me and my father to your neighbors out of love. There is no commandment greater than these.”
12:32 12:33 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 12:33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
If anyone is interested in printing this, here is the pdf file (The Lord’s House Bill).
YOU CAN FORWARD IT TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS, AND ASK THEM TO FORWARD IT TO ALL OF THEIRS.
Last week, I finished reading through Leviticus again. It was only the second time I’ve read through it start to finish. Which is a shame really. I think Leviticus gets a bad rap.
Off and on, I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying the feasts, but I’ve spent very little time on the remainder of Leviticus. The symbolism is unreal. And not that I’m claiming to grasp it all, quite the contrary. But, it’s good stuff.
Suggestion: if anyone is planning to tackle Leviticus any time soon, read the fall feasts for their eschatological significance, and, when reading about the offerings, think about God symbolizing the bull or offering from the herd, Jesus as the lamb or offering from the flock, and, of course, the Holy Spirit as the pigeon or turtle dove offerings.
I would be curious to hear anyone’s thoughts. If you know of any other resources relating to this, I would also be grateful if you would let me know.