Archives For Holy Spirit

Zen Bowling

October 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

bowlingI really stink at bowling. I always have. I do it about once a year and look and feel stupid the whole time.

Today, my unit at work had a team building outing. We ate some lunch, and went bowling. The first game did not go well for me. I didn’t even break 100. The second game was going the same way until the 10th frame. I got three strikes in the 10th and actually won!

The weird thing is, it was just a weird thing. I don’t know what happened, how it happened, why it happened. I just happened.

I got the ball, took a deep breath, and time stopped. I couldn’t hear the music playing, didn’t hear the voices of all the people around me. Before I released the ball I knew it would be a strike, and it was. Same for the second shot and the third. I just knew it was going to happen.

This same thing has happened just like this four other times in my life. I wrote about one here where I hit a bumblebee with an acorn. Once in the third grade during a baseball game (which I also was no good at) I hit a grand slam to win the game. Eight years ago I won an XBox 360 in a raffle, and the same thing happened about six months ago when I won a Wii.

I knew I was going to bowl three strikes. I knew I was going to hit the bumblebee. I knew I was going to hit a home run, and I knew I was going to win the raffle. It’s like time stopped during each of these events and I just knew.

What is that? Have any of you ever experienced anything like that?

I called it “zen bowling” today. Everyone with me agreed that something weird/special happened. I know it’s not zen – I don’t believe in that philosophy. But on the surface, it was a very peaceful experience where I had an insight, ability or intuition that I normally don’t have. Which, if you think about it, is actually kinda zen.

Do you think the Holy Spirit can give a person this kind of insight or ability? Do you think in each of these situations of weirdness, I was given something I don’t normally have so that I could do something I don’t normally do? Is this what being filled with the Spirit is all about? Or did I just get lucky and feel really good about it?

A big question is, why would God care if I did these things? Was he glorified in each of them? I wasn’t thinking about God, I know that for sure. I was thinking how crazy it was. If I give God the credit for these things will they happen more often?

So many questions. You know what I’m talking about, right? Or are we just in the Matrix?

Comment below if you have answers or similar experiences!

Whoa Whoa Whoa Feelings

September 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

notebook

Yeah, The Notebook. Get over it.

You know what? I was sound asleep 15 minutes ago. Sound asleep. Then my eyes popped open, I sat straight up in bed, my mind immediately awake and full of ideas. Two words. Holy. Spirit.

There has been an occasion in my life where I had the opportunity to have a moment like in the picture above. Imagine it for a moment. How ridiculous it actually is, I mean. Why am I standing outside in the rain kissing someone? Why am I not inside, where it’s warm and dry? Who does that?

Have you ever had a moment like that?

Well, let me try to explain the unexplainable.

Circumstances have drawn you toward this one single moment. Everything is all lined up. It doesn’t even matter what happened to draw you into this moment – all that matters is this is where you are.

You’re shivering, but not cold. Actually, you’re pretty warm inside. Your heart is pounding, you’re out of breath, your skin feels like lightning is about to strike. And it’s like there’s only two people on the entire earth. Everyone else, everything else, is outside of existence.

Have you every had a moment like that in life? I hope you have – in spite of being ridiculous, it’s actually pretty wonderful. Pretty life changing. It’s something you will never forget.

I’m married to a girl I shared a moment like that with. She’s beautiful, inside and out. Our life could be a movie! And the weird thing is, we have moments like that all the time. Except for the rain part.

We have other moments, too. Moments when things are too hard, moments when we can’t stand each other, moments when everything is too hard and we just want to give up. Moments when there’s a mountain of dirty laundry, the dishes are all sitting in the sink dirty and neither of us wants to wash them, moments when both cars are broken down and we have no idea what to do next because neither of us gets paid until Friday and it’s Tuesday and we just paid the mortgage and we only have $28 to last the week.

All of those moments are what life is. I wouldn’t trade one of them for anything. I have experienced all of those things, and maybe you have too. I cherish each and every one of those experiences, and all the others. It’s part of who I am, and they have, at least in part, made me who I am.

There’s one more moment. It’s almost unexplainable. But I’ll give it a try.

Circumstances drew me into this one single moment. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are – here I am. Maybe I’m scared, or upset or worried about life or work or whatever. And Cheryl is there praying over me. My heart is pounding, I’m shivering, out of breath, and there’s electricity in the air. But instead of it being just the two of us, there’s someone else there. There are three people in this moment and all three of us are engaged in what is happening. Everyone else, everything else, is outside of existence.

Everything becomes completely still, the hairs on my arms stand straight up, a cool, calming breeze blows across my skin.

It’s just me and Cheryl and the Holy Spirit. He brings us together, he breathes through us, into us. He give us love and life and hope. He makes life more than the laundry and cars and home repairs, more than the sum of all the moments put together. He makes even the hard things worth it. Life – for us anyway – is not possible and maybe not even worth it without him.

Have you ever had a moment like that? I hope you have. In spite of me trying to give words to it, it’s unexplainable, wonderful, life changing. It’s something you will never forget, and something you will long to experience again and again. The awesome thing about it is, you can experience it. You can have this every single day. You can experience this moment over and over again, and it’s brand new every single time.

Romans 8:26-28 comes to mind. We often come to God with a laundry list of mundane things to pray about – health, safety, work, family. God already knows our needs! Not that we don’t need to pray for and over all of it, but there is a level of prayer that goes much deeper. God wants to know you, not just the things you’re worried about or in need of. He wants to share life with you!

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray, or how to pray. The Spirit helps us, he intercedes for us, sometimes with words we don’t even understand. He helps us to see that it’s all going to be ok, that everything is going to work out, even if we don’t think it will, even if we think there’s no chance that this will ever be ok. He helps us to understand that we are loved beyond what we can presently know, and that all things work together for good to those who love God.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? I hope you have -

Anyone who has seen the Veggie Tales video “A Snoodle’s Tale” has heard of Danish Immersion Camp. I’m sure you’ve heard of it even if you never saw the Veggie Tales video. It’s often used as a punch line of some kind. It’s real though, believe it or not.

Danish, or any kind, of immersion camp is an intense immersion into the culture, language and customs of whichever culture you are immersing yourself in. I suppose in Danish immersion, you eat a lot of Danishes, build stuff with Legos, and learn about Vikings.

I went through a similar experience when I started attending church at Gateway. You see, I was raised Baptist, went to a Baptist college, a Baptist seminary, served in Baptist churches for about 15 years. Gateway is not Baptist. And it was a little strange for me at first.

Gateway is a large, non-denominational, charismatic church. You may have heard of Gateway. They produce a lot of worship CDs, do a lot of missions, several pastors have written books, and they have helped a great many people in a multitude of ways.

The first Sunday I was there, they were talking about “water baptism.” That’s the only kind I knew about at the time. You get saved, you get baptized, you rock and roll. But what I learned, and it took a long time to sink in, is that there is another baptism – baptism in the Holy Spirit. It took a while for me to accept this teaching. It’s not mentioned in the Baptist Faith and Message. Not the 1963 version (which I used to have about 1000 of), not the 2000 version (which I only read because I had to). Not even the 1925 version.

What the BF&M does say is, “At the moment of regeneration [The Holy Spirit] baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ.” On this I think we all agree, but that’s as far as I was ever taught. Except for that the Holy Spirit doesn’t enable us to do things like it says in the bible anymore – no healing, no prophesying, especially no tongues. Anything but that last one.

Going to Gateway was a liberating experience for me. I learned that there is more to life, faith and the Holy Spirit than what I was taught in school. Here’s a few things I learned, by immersion -

You don’t have to be afraid of the Holy Spirit. He wants to empower you to live the life you were created and redeemed to live.

Believing in the Holy Spirit, and talking about him, doesn’t make you weird. Pastor Robert Morris has stated several times that it’s not like you will just break out into tongues in the supermarket check-out line. The Holy Spirit is not weird, the people who talk about him aren’t weird, and he won’t make you weird.

You invite him in. You surrender to him. And when you do, amazing things happen.

The Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ, and Christ baptizes us into the Holy Spirit. At least that’s what John the Baptist said. Take it up with him.

Now for some specific Scripture references -

All of the gospels speak of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. See Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33.

Jesus, as in all things, is our example. The Spirit came upon him, and remained upon him, after his water baptism by John. John 1:33, Matt 3:16.

Many verses throughout the book of Acts talk about the baptism in the Holy Spirit – Acts 2, Acts 8:12-17, Acts 10, Acts 19:1-7.

Many people point to Paul’s words about speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 as a prohibition. He is not prohibiting it, he is putting its usage into proper perspective. With tongues, we edify ourselves – and there’s nothing wrong with that! But in public, we should build others up.

1 John 5 talks about three witnesses – the Spirit, water and blood. Christians are saved by the blood of Christ; water baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the death of our old selves, and being raised a new, whole person in Christ; and the Spirit, who dwells inside us and give us the power to be witnesses and live as God intended – free and whole.

This is foreshadowed in the way the tabernacle was set up in the Old Testament. There were three parts to the tabernacle – the outer courts, the holy place, and the most holy place. To get to the most holy place, you had to do three things -  you had to sacrifice a lamb on the altar, you had to wash with water, and you had to be annointed with oil. Only then could you enter into the presence of God. The lamb represents Christ and his sacrifice for us, the water represents baptism, and the oil represents the Holy Spirit.

It may seem like you have been immersed after all the Scripture I have referenced. I used my notes from church last weekend as the foundation for this post, and believe me, Pastor Robert really brings it – you can tell that the Holy Spirit is all over him – you can watch the sermon online here.

Last weekend, many thousands of people made a decision to be baptized in the Spirit. I have never seen anything like it in my life.  Please watch it for yourself, read the Scriptures, pray about it, seek God and the truth of his word. What is he saying to you about the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Religions people are some of the most difficult people I know. I’m not talking about people who actually love Jesus, whose life is all about pursuing him – I’m talking about your standard every-day-run-of-the-mill church people. If you’ve been a guest at a church and been offended by someone who (not very politely) let you know you were sitting in their seat, you might know who I am talking about.

The thing is, we all have great potential to be just that - churchy, religious, overbaked, self-righteous. Maybe not overbaked, maybe undercooked. I don’t know. Either not quite done or way too done or maybe a little bit of both.

Hypocrisy really burns me up. I know who I am, I know my exact faults, I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. I’m very honest about the fact that I am rough around the edges. Way less so than a 20 years ago, this time last year, or even a week ago. I’m in progress. The work is not done yet. The Holy Spirit is still working it out in my life, and I am letting him. I even went to a co-worker today and told him I was sorry for being a jerk. 15 years ago I would have beaten him and then laughed about it. I wish I was kidding.

I have never tried to make people feel bad for messing up. One time I went to a party (many moons ago) and got a little polluted. The next day I was confronted by some kids from church and they really laid it on thick, how Jesus was so ashamed, and how God was crying, how I needed to repent (For the record, I’m not a drinker these days, but I had the potential to be the fat dude in the corner that could outdo everyone when I was a kid). These same kids were sexually active, disobedient to their parents, disprespectful, and you already knew this but very judgemental.

It’s a conundrum, wrapped in an oxymoron, wrapped in a holier than thou. Wrapped in a tortilla. A corn one. I can’t wrap my mind around it to be honest. Every church where I’ve been on staff we had people like this. Every church I’ve been a member of has had people like this. I wonder if I’m like that sometimes and to keep from it I examine myself daily because to be blunt it makes me really mad. I think this type of behavior is disagreable to God too. How he actually feels I don’t know but that part of me that is him really doesn’t like seeing it.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech with contradictory terms – business ethics, rap music, true story, deficit spending. A churchy Christian is a living oxymoron. AKA a hypocrite.

It’s a distressing and difficult question - a conundrum. You probably hear it often enough how we are not supposed to judge people (Jesus said it in Matt 7). This little snippet of scripture is used to justify everything that anybody wants to do that they know is wrong but want to do anyway. If people would bother to read the whole passage, they would notice Jesus is talking to hypocrites to start with. The point is, a hypocrite has no basis of judgement because their lives are all out of whack – their standard of judgement is self, and when they stand in judgement over others they are in fact judging themselves guilty. See what he did there?

All those self-righteous people have already condemned themselves and they are probably not smart enough to understand it.

So how can we be true to the Word, stand for Truth, and not come across as a judgy, self-righteous prat? The thing is, Jesus was not telling us not to judge, he was telling us how to judge – not in hypocrisy, and not out of hate, but out of love, in humility, not superiority.

Galatians 6:1 says this – “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” The qualifications for judging another person are, you should be spiritual – seeking Christ daily – you should be seeking to restore the person gently, not dragging them through the mud and definitely not holding their sins against them or thinking you are better than them. And you had darned well better not have sin in your life.

If you are honest in your pursuit to restore a person, then God will be with you in it. If not, judge not, or you will be judged with the same standard that you are judging. It’s a fine line, and we are called to walk it, but we must walk it carefully, prayerfully, and with the Holy Spirit as a guide.

 

You might remember many stories from the bible involving Jesus and fish. He was always talking about fish and handing out fish to eat. He traveled all over the place with fishermen, and, more importantly, Jesus chose fishermen for the important job of spreading his word and building his church.

One of the symbols of Christianity is the fish symbol, seen above. The Greek word for “fish” is “ichthus” (here’s what it looks like in Greek – ἰχθύς), and each letter is the first letter of the words Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior (ησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ).

What I’m saying is, the fish is a major component of the imagery of Christianity. Here’s what I found in a 30 second Google search -

Jesus called disciples in terms of fishing, saying ”from now on you will be catching men” (Lk 5:1-10). Two stories of miraculous catches of fish are told in Luke 5:1-11 and John 21:1-8. All of the gospel writers agree that he fed thousands with fish and bread. There was the feeding of 5000 (John 6:1-14), and the feeding of the 4000 (Mark 8:1-9). He compares the kingdom of heaven to a fishing net (Matt 13:47-48). Jesus often preached from fishing boats (Matt 13:1-3; Mark 4:1-9; Luke 5:1-3) and sailed in fishing boats (Mark 4:35-41; Matt 8:23-27). Jesus was given fish to eat after his resurrection in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-43), and he cooked fish for his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:9-14).

But there’s one more story.  You may have heard it in church right around April 15th.  Jesus paid taxes with a coin found in the mouth of a fish (Matt 17:24-27).

I have heard this story many times in church and in bible study classes, and I always wonder how in the world did the coin get in the fish’s mouth?  I have made up some unlikely scenarios in the past.  Maybe there was a wind storm and some coins blew off a table somewhere and ended up in the water.  Maybe someone was using the Sea of Galilee as a wishing well.  Could be that someone had a rough day/life and all they had left was a few coins, and in disgust, he pitched them into the water. I mean, coins are shiny, fish like shiny stuff, so if a shiny coin ends up in the water somehow, it’s not inconceivable that a fish would try to eat it. Right?

Think about it from the perspective of the fish. Fish are not all that smart, although apparently they can be trained if you’re a Mythbuster (that’s video proof if you follow the link). Fish just kinda float there until something catches their attention, and if it looks anything like food they lunge for it, put it in their mouth, then dart off the other direction.

I’ve caught fish with a paperclip before – no bait, just a shiny, shiny paperclip. Think what a fish must be thinking if a coin is slowly tumbling through the water – “Shiny. Must be food. I will eat it.”

That’s about the extent of it if you’re a fish. The coin got there somehow, right?

Could be that it was just flat out a miracle.  Jesus said there’d be a coin and there was one, end of story.

It’s not really the end though. The same God who called the disciples, who filled the nets with fish, who fed thousands with a little kid’s Lunchable, that same God is calling you! He wants to fill your nets – he wants to bless you beyond your wildest imagination! He wants to take the only thing we can give him – our lives – and change the lives of thousands!

Jesus once told his disciples, what I’ve done is nothing compared to what you will do. Do you believe the words of your savior? Do you believe you could do more than he did? He sent his Spirit so that we can! Ask anything in his name and he will do it!

A fish – the little fish that could – was sufficient to work a miracle with, not just once, but time and again. A smelly, scaley fish enriched the lives of so many people – and how much more has God got planned for you!

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? Call on him to enable you to be a fisherman, ask him to help fill your nets, ask him to enable you to change the world!