Monday, February 28, 2011

A Track Meet Brings a Powerful Voice

As we prepared to move to Zambia our denomination spent thousands of dollars  for our supplies. We were playing a prominent role in events and large gatherings. All of this combined to become a very deceptive and effective tool in allowing spiritual pride to take root. Today, I would place missionaries in a setting where their primary responsibilities would be the preparation of their heart and soul by prayer, worship, introspection, and intense dialogue with humble servants who have walked a similar road.

Another Point of Understanding- Many times in my periods of darkness and shadow one specific question seemed to be on my lips more than others. The question in fact was why, why wait ten years, why go to the Zambian bush, why arrive at the time we did? My understanding of that questioning is to be found in the life of, Ana. The clarity of understanding found full fruition on a cold spring day. Ana had decided she wanted to run on the track team. God in His love allowed me to watch a miracle take place. That specific moment in time, on a Northern Michigan track, God brought clarity to my soul.

Ana was running in the 400 meter relay and she was the final runner, the anchor. The handover of the baton to Ana left her about 20 meters trailing the lead runner. With each runner covering 100 meters it seemed almost impossible for Ana to be able to catch her competition. With less than 30 meters to the finish line, Ana in fact, passed the runner and her team won the race. That race is still talked about to this day. Donna and I both cried and marveled at our Zambian speedster.

Later I talked to Donna, Marily, and Hilary, all of us agreed that given the choice, we would not change one moment of the past if it meant our life, family, was less one beautiful child. God's timing and our discernment of his will was right on. The place we moved too, the ten year wait, the unbearable pain and devastation all accepted now as a minuscule burden in comparison to hugging our child.

At times understanding God's plan is plain and an illuminated roadway. At times understanding God's plan is found through trial and error. For whatever reason, God be praised, my understanding was and still is a mixture of clarity, darkness and shadow. None of that really matters, does it? Not as long as I confess that every breath is a gift and evidence of the great, I AM.

Friday, February 25, 2011

End of Questions- Beginning of Understanding

My time of questioning God and getting no answers was ending. Very simply; I had come to the end of asking why. My emotional and mental life was convincing me of God's non-involvement in everyday life.

Today I thank God for the time of great darkness and shadow. It was during darkness and shadow that I knew I must re-discover God as I thought I once knew, or, accept despair as truth, accepting agnostic thought. A very gifted Creative Writing Professor began a time of meeting with me. Neither one of us having any idea of the light this would bring to me. Our first few times that we got together we discussed writing and my manuscript, with the implications of the content.

Our conversations soon took on a much deeper and philosophical nature. He encouraged me to read the early Greek writers who brought illumination to the dilemma of man and questions. A real thirst was growing within, I had to know if God was, still is, will always be, caring and involved in the life of man. I also began reading contemporary, as compared too two thousand year old, thought and debate on the existence of God.

A slow realization began to take place, slow as I seemed to gain some understanding and then darkness and shadow. I was always fascinated by the created order of the universe and now that thought became a powerful concept that helped me. My personal hypothesis about time and creation began to take form, an absolutely unprovable form. That being, if time was able to be reversed, the created to become before, all elements drawn back to a specific time in space and history, to their origin. How did they become? Imagine all of life and history recorded on a DVD and run in reverse. What, Who, How, was that matter cast into forward motion? It seemed to me that more faith was required to believe in random chance than in a Creator with a design and purpose.

Another influence taking fruition in my mind was the experiential truth of the early followers of Christ. Thousands of believers in Christ entered arenas, embracing sword, beast and flame with the gospel on their lips. I had faced heartache and confusion, but nothing that could ever compare to the millions who embraced death. What truth did they experience that enabled them to sing, pray and praise on their way to death?

Their strength came from experiencing God, not from an acknowledgement of creed or doctrine. Man would probable run from death if all he had as truth were words and paper passed down from history. But, truth believed through experience and assurance would empower him to face anything.

Some Points of Understanding.
One specific point of understanding that I gained was painful. Spiritual ignorance and spiritual pride became evident. In ignorance, or just plain ignoring, the plain truth of evil and suffering wasn't supposed to come my way. But, who was I to think that God would not allow pain and despair to have influence. Part of my problem was in fact a literal interpretation of scripture that was in error. The Psalms spoke of angels and protection, of evil and pestilence not striking the people of God.

The evil of spiritual pride is masked and unnoticed by many. Daring and bold service for God, to the lost and despairing is applauded and elevated. Those who confess a calling to unique or seemingly dangerous ministries face a pride that many people do not. many of my friends in ministry were making a name for themselves. They were, "On their way." My dose of the poison came in the uniqueness of, "Africa."

I will try and close this soon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tribute to Victors

Long did I clutch bottle and pill,
Friendship my aching soul to fill.
Such longing in my heart,
Their lie, mask playing a part.

I cried, I tried, to abandon their lies,
Their hold on me, a noose tied.
Free, Free, Why can't I be,
Of this hook, so deep in me.

Deep darkness, Despair, All I see,
Chained down, I want, Can't flee.
Death, Peace of death, Please cover me,
Earthen grave, My only plea.

Stretched out, Damp cold night,
Pain, Punishment, I sense is right.
In deep despair, My head hangs low,
Eyes, Tears, Capturing a glow.

Hands reach to hold my chains,
Scars, History of cruelty, Pain.
Love, Compassion, Shine from his face,
Shackles, Links, Shattering, Falling in our embrace.
tg 2-21-2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Times of Darkness and Shadow-cont.

All healing takes time. Serious injury or illness can take months or years for recovery. Recovery, doesn't always mean to the same health and vigor enjoyed before. My spiritual and emotional healing would take almost ten years and my spiritual and emotional exercising must continue. A very effective and powerful step was found in writing. The following portion adds to more understanding of my doubt about God's care.

After resigning from the ministry we moved to Northeast Michigan. We used our severance money as a down payment on a ten acre apple orchard. I hoped the change would clear my mind and help Donna as well. On the morning of January 22nd, I received a phone call from a friend telling me that our farm house was on fire. I drove as fast as I could, only to stand and watch twenty three years of pictures, photos, elementary school art projects, all turn to ash and mud. Donna stood by my side and watched as her precious Zambian baskets, made by a lady in a leper colony, added to the ash and mud.

Insurance would help us begin again, as far as a house was concerned. There was no insurance company in the world that could help our minds and hearts begin again. All of my praying and believing was useless, hollow and dead. The snowball continued to roll downhill, gaining speed and mass. When it hit, and hit it must, the flying snow would go in every direction. What did that really mean? Was more deep personal tragedy on its way? Would the knife of divorce cut in two, hearts already broken and bleeding? I did not know what to expect.

In the span of five years I had four jobs. Trying to find stability in my life was like catching a snowflake and cupping your hand over it to keep it from flying away. When you opened your hand all that was to be was a small drop of water. Each new opportunity afforded me brought promises to Donna that things were gonna get better, change was coming. But, the drop of water left in our hands was from a tear. Our eyes, yes, both Donna's and mine, were running out of tears.

I don't recall what prompted me to begin writing. I just remember the thought that putting experiences down on paper can be helpful in examination and in trying to understand. I did it once before in the presence of two dead parents and brother. I was compelled to write each of them a letter expressing love, pain, resentment and forgiveness. On a cold day I stood at the foot of their graves and read aloud each letter. At the end I burnt the letters and let the wind carry away the ash.

The writing was like torrents of water coming out of a broken dam. Words flew and thoughts moved in my mind so fast that my feeble attempts at capturing them was frustrating at times. Pages turned into a full tablet and the second tablet filled as well. How could I make sense of the past ten years? No rational person would believe in a personal, involved, and present God.  As I continued to write I began to hope I was wrong.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Personal Time of Darkness and Shadow

This portion of the retelling is very difficult to compress into small digestible portions.

Sending Donna home with Hilary and Ana brought excruciating pain to my soul and a dense fog over my understanding of God and His ways. I stayed behind with Marily for a couple of months while I completed some projects and dedicated time to our utmost family priority, adopting Ana. The completed adoption would be a source of peace in our lives. I was able to complete the adoption in six weeks. In retrospect, the entire adoption experience had God's fingerprints all over it.

After two months Marily and I joined the rest of our family. Within ten days we were at our new church assignment. We tried to pour out the life of Christ, only eternity will reveal results, but, the vessel of our life was damaged. We stayed at that small church for two years and then moved across the state. Ministry became mechanical, saying and doing the right thing, hours on end, days on end, months on end. Two events would shake me out of my comatose existence, both within a year of each other.

I must regress for a moment. During all of this time I continued to pray and read the bible and ponder the truth of God. At times praying brought great tears, tears of grief and sorrow, over friends left behind and wounds still bleeding.

During a youth outing Hilary collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. Entering the, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, began an extended nightmare. Hilary, my Joyful Light, was so quiet. The silence of the room seemed married to the blipping of the cardiac monitor in a relationship of despair and more pain. Pain, I was becoming more intimate with this unwelcome heart resident each day.

Hilary had damaged her heart as a result of an eating disorder. Days later she was released, with a heart monitor and medication, at the age of fifteen. Just a couple of days later we admitted her to a small hospital that was referred to us. After the intake process Hilary was led to her room. As she was leaving us she pleaded to us to take her home and not to leave her. The doors shut and locked behind her and us. Donna and I sat in the parking lot and cried. Our tears brought no relief, only emptiness and questions impossible to answer. Why God? What is the purpose? Where are you? Our hearts and spirits are broken, what is the point of existence?

Post Traumatic Stress was determined to bring Donna's life to an end. The emotional damage from Zambia was now making her seriously ill. At one point she was in the hospital for more than a week due to stroke-like symptoms. Her doctor determined that she was having T.I.A. episodes. He told us that the stress in her life must be dealt with or she faced more illness and failing health.

In all honesty, I didn't really know how much more pain and despair we could endure. Many people would have had friends to share the burdens with. The few friends we had were far away, some far from us, not in distance, but in communication. People I thought close disengaged when we came back from Zambia. Our perception was, perceived failure, or not wanting to touch and understand our pain. At this point I made the decision to resign from our ministry.

A meeting to discuss our resignation, with our denominations leader, was a disaster. He told us in plain and very simple words that he, doesn't beg or ask pastors to stay. So many questions come to the minds of sincere seeking people when these events take place and they search in vain for answers. I had to come to the place where I asked every question. At that point, exhausted in mind and spirit, I gave up. I gave up searching for answers and gave up expecting God to answer me.

I thank God for the experience of doubt and pain. For the almost certainty, that God was absent and beyond my touch. Doubting His reality brought me to know a Greater Reality and certainty.  More later.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Understanding the plan and desire of God

It didn't take very long for the Lord to open my eyes to His desire for my life. I knew that I was to be a communicator of the gospel message of Jesus Christ, a minister, servant of God. Donna shared the same divine impress upon her heart. Three years before we would attend the denominations school for ordination former missionaries came to visit our small Northern Michigan congregation.

The couple had spent some years in the African country of Zambia. They lived in the bush where he was involved in the secondary school and his wife was a nurse in the hospital. They presented a slide show of their work. The slide showed the children at school and the sick at the hospital. They also showed a few slides of the more exotic side of the bush, elephants, zebras, and baboons. At the end of the presentation they challenged everybody to re-think their commitments, to stewardship and to serving God. A very heavy burden was upon me to talk to them about service. We talked for some time and they left with a prayer, that our hearts and minds would be open to the Spirit of God and His leading.

After ordination I reminded our administration of my, our, desire and burden for the mission field. On many of those occasions we were encouraged about the burdens. On some of the reviews the discussion seemed to be passed over rather lightly. For ten years the inner voice was the same. O, it was more intense at times, but it never ceased. Finally, after waiting for ten years, we were informed we were going to be moving to Zambia. In fact, to the very bush station that our friends showed slides about. When I told them of the plans and where we were going, well, it was a rather emotional time.

My understanding was clear. Without a doubt or hesitation my spirit knew. It is hard to explain, but once experienced, undeniable. The Lord opened many doors as we prepared to move. It is hard to imagine how difficult it is to move a family of four thousands of miles and have everything needed for four years. After some time to settle living in Zambia was a wondrous time of faith and family. God, in His great mercy, knew that things were about to change and a great darkness was to overshadow us for some time.

Our third Christmas came and went and the New Year was soon to be upon us. On New Years Eve Donna was beaten and sexually assaulted by a minister in our denomination. We faced terrible accusations of hatred and racism. Our world was falling apart. Our girls faced death threats and comments were made about taking Ana from us. The administration knew the circumstances and decided against discipline or redemptive measures. Life was falling apart, God seemed absent and not able to be touched in prayer or in scripture.
One month later, after more threats, everything came apart. I had to send Donna, Hilary and Ana home on two days notice.

Communication and understanding from God, that was essential for my spiritual existence, came to a screeching halt. My praying seemed empty and I couldn't find or sense His peace. This was only the beginning of a very dark, and I must say, frightening time in life. Had I been so wrong in my understanding about God? Was the fifteen years of praying and waiting a mistake? Did I misread God? My mind and spirit were being flooded with questions, I couldn't stop the questioning and I was without any answer.

My answer, which began like a small snowball going downhill, was simple. God simply didn't care.
More to follow.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Lenten Thought

Close, Come to His Cross,
The Scene, His Life, Seem as Dross.

I Will Cherish the Old Rugged Cross

The Wood, The Blood,
Attack my Soul Like a flood.
I Want to Flee,
In His Visage, it is Me.

I Will Cling to the Old Rugged Cross

He Hangs in My Place,
Clothed in Disgrace.
His Head Bowed Low,
From Brokeness, Life does Flow.

I Will Cherish the Old Rugged Cross

His Eyes, Upon Me Gaze,
My Tears, My Vision does Haze.
The Death Post, I Again Come Near,
For My Need I See Clear.

I Will Cling to the Old Rugged Cross

My Hands, Soul, do Grip His Feet,
Souls Rejoice! For Salvation Sweet.
The Post, The Beam, That Raised Him High,
Transport All Beyond the Sky.
"I Will Cling- I Will Cherish" The Old Rugged Cross-George Benard
Blessings to All.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Personal Experiences in Understanding God's Purposes

Hindsight is really 20/20. Today I can look back over the years and clearly see the plan of God. Beginning from a very young age I was somehow sensitive to spiritual ideas. I attended a one room Methodist Church in the town I grew up in. Later, just prior to my teenage years, I was confronted with the claims of Christ. After the death of my older brother I abandoned any notion of a caring and involved divinity. The next few years brought a time of family and personal strife.

It was in the plan and mercy of God that I would leave the town I grew up in and move to a one bedroom cabin in the wilds of Northern Michigan. My heart and soul was hungry for substance. The freedom and choices I made as a teen and young adult failed to fill the vacuum in my life. God allowed, in His providence, me to meet a young woman who loved Jesus Christ. She was not afraid to speak of her relationship with God. My heart was fertile ground for the seeds of faith to be sowed.

The message of Christ began to have a place in my thinking. The spiritual hunger in my heart grew, I made the decision to trust in Christ and His revelation to me was real. I knew in my heart and mind that God loved me and my faith in the completed work of Christ brought me into fellowship with Christ and my relationship to God was restored. The Holy Spirit had His witness within my spirit, I knew.

I suppose my spiritual growth was the same experienced by millions. I was eager to know as much as I could about Christ and the gospel. I began to read scripture and tried to develop a devotional life, prayer and scripture reading. During this time I began to sense that God was laying the burden upon my heart to communicate the gospel. The burden grew and I acknowledged it to those leaders around me.

The young woman, Donna, became my wife and we found ways to serve God in our local fellowship. She knew of my burden and shared the same in her life. During this time a spiritual struggle was developing in my heart. I knew that I wanted to serve God. I knew that God, through Christ, had my life in His hands. The trouble was, I was not able to do all that I knew, and I was unable to cease from doing what I feared. Sin, the inward power, was at war with my desire to serve God.

My heart and spirit began a period of frustration and crying out to God for answers. The struggle could not really be the will of God. Why would He want me to feel defeated, to sense failure in my desire to serve and love Him wholly. I devoured books and articles about the inner struggle and light was given to my understanding. God was telling me that there was more to His life in me. The Bible, prayer, fellowship with other mature believers and the presence of God Himself spoke to me the truth. My life was the same as reflected by millions of others. I was in need of the Holy Spirit to invade my life and clean house.

That experience was to have its birth during a rather ordinary spiritual retreat. Our guest, a teacher from our own seminary, spoke about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the weekend my prayer was very simple, rather unemotional, yet desperate. God have your way in all of my life, consume everything that is not like you. Fill my life with your presence.

The confirmation, that He indeed had accepted my plea and gift, came that very evening. I was to speak at our fellowship that night about the weekend. The overpowering, warming, unexplainable presence of the Holy Spirit seemed to consume every cell in my body. Now, I knew this, God revealed to me that it was His desire and plan to equip me to live a life honoring to Him. That evening the evidence of His gift to me was also in evidence. Many friends confessed that God spoke to them in a very real and understandable way through my message. The Holy Spirit had gifted me with communication.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Summary of thoughts- Discerning the Will of God

These past blogs have been centered around a universal and timeless question. Can I understand, discern, the will of God? I tried to bring to light my understanding of the question. Can we, human beings, understand in clarity, the desires and purposes that God has for us. The study and writing has been a real blessing to me and my own understanding has grown. My opinion is yes, we can have a clear understanding of God's plan and even an understanding of how he communicates with us.

The most amazing truth that was reinforced over and over was that God would even choose to communicate with mankind. The always ever present Great I AM, Creator, Sovereign, Source, Governor and Sustainer of all, made the choice to reveal Himself to man. This revealing was done in many ways over a long period of time. What has remained a mystery to me is the choice of speaking. What was his voice like? What language did he speak in? Why should he choose to speak in our language? I believe He spoke as God and the miracle is not in his ability to speak our language, it is in our ability to understand GOD.

My heart and spirit is encouraged in the evidence all around, God is real, He is personal, He is involved in the affairs of mankind, He is and will be ever present. Our God is not some distant being who cannot be touched, loved, known, sensed and experienced. The host of heaven and the voices of millions of martyrs testify to the Ever Present One. So many would have us believe that God is not an ever present reality. And that should he exist, he has no interest in the experiences of mankind. For, if he did, he would have brought evil and pain to an end long ago.

God is free to communicate his desires and plans to us in any manner. In the Old Testament there is ample evidence that He spoke in a clear voice to Adam, Cain, Noah, Abram and others. He spoke in dreams to such as Joseph and Daniel. Many of the prophets had clear visions of God, and given by God. Moses had close and real encounters with God as the Lord himself. God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit's indwelling to certain people for very specific tasks.

In these last days God has spoken to us through His Son, whom is the heir of all. Christ is the physical character of the Trinity. In Him we find a fully complete display of the mind and heart of God. In the New Testament Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. The indwelling presence of God came to all believers on the day of Pentecost. It is the plan and desire of God that all who believe and follow Jesus Christ will themselves have His very presence living within. There isn't a reason for any person to doubt their acceptance into the fellowship of God, through Jesus Christ His Son.

Today the most common method that God uses to communicate is through His word, the Bible and the ministry of the Holy Spirit bringing light to our lives. He may still use dreams and visions as he chooses. Many have asked about the audible voice of God. Does He still speak like he did to Adam and Moses, Paul and John?  I have never heard the audible voice of God, yet I believe that He is only limited by the limitations I place on Him.

Monday, February 7, 2011


A piece to ponder as we walk towards Easter.



PURPOSE tg/2-1-2011 copyright.

Friday, February 4, 2011

As Real as it Gets

You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!" Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child?gal4:6/peterson-the message

Before a century would pass since the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ the known world would be turned upside down. The leaders of the new church would lead the way as multitudes of followers of Christ, spoke of and lived out, the gospel message. The spreading of the message was not always embraced with eagerness. The religious belief systems in the lands would not crumble easily. The cost to the church was the blood of thousands of faithful followers.

What was it that empowered the followers of Christ? Was it the acceptance of a new religion? Was it the acceptance of a newly martyred leader? Was it even the word of his followers who witnessed miracles and hung on his every word? I believe that Jesus himself was present, alive and indwelling his followers. His presence, poured out on the day of Pentecost, empowered believers to face the terror of torture, the collaseum, and forms of execution that were considered barbaric, even in a barbaric world.

One of the greatest treasures enjoyed by believers in Jesus Christ is the witness given to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit. John Wesley spoke of a warming of his heart as he understood and knew that God, yes, even God, loved him and called him his child. Every believer in Christ can experience this truth of God. The God of all creation, the Preserver and Governor of all things impresses upon the human spirit His acceptance of sinful, yet forgiven, individuals. There can be no doubt of the communication of God to individuals. It is one of the most profound, and undeniable evidences, given by God to man.

The witness (communication) of the Spirit to our spirit is not a singular experience. Followers of Christ can and do testify to this blessing and confirmation taking place many times. It is not the mind of God that any should doubt or wonder if they are loved by God and accepted and adopted into his eternal family. The witness of the Holy Spirit brings confirmation that my confession of Christ is accepted.

What a wonder it is that you and I have the very Impress of God upon our lives. His Spirit witnesses to my spirit that I am loved and adopted. Having direct knowledge of adoption, our Ana, I marvel at this truth. Adoption is the willing choice to love one outside of the family. Then, to bring them into the family with all rights and joys. The joy of being included, included in love, fellowship, communication and eternal care.

The presence of God's Spirit is the presence of the Spirit of Jesus. He told us that he would never leave us nor forsake us. It is Jesus Christ, the second person in the Triune Godhead, who lives within us, who speaks his truth to us, who guides us, will continue to transform us as we listen to his voice. His voice, at times quiet as a whisper, at times confirmed in scripture, at times from a believing friend, always speaking truth. His truth enabled multitudes to stand firm in the face of opposition and death. May it be so with us.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts and questions pt7

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is the "bring to remembrance" of the words of Jesus as promised in John 14:26. Jesus told his followers that his words would be brought forth in their minds and hearts when needed. He told them not to worry when they stood in the temple before the rulers as to what they should say. His words would live again in their spirit. The Holy Spirit is the quickening power of Christ.

As I study the New Testament the last instance I find of God speaking directly to a person is found in the book of Acts. Saul, on his way to Damascus to imprison followers of Christ hears the voice of Jesus. We understand it to be Jesus by his self-identification. Saul asks who it is and Jesus replies directly to him. the account tells us that others heard the voice as well.

It appears that Paul and John would have visions directed by God. John's vision of the revelation of Christ is one of the most mysterious and awesome portions of scripture. In my mind it is comparable to the Prophet Isaiah's vision of the Holiness of God.

Now, to the question of the direct audible voice of God in the world today. I will never say that such communication is impossible. I can honestly say that I have never heard what I would describe as the audible voice of God. What I mean by audible is this: A person next to me would also hear sounds. I would understand the voice to be God's, the person next to me may not have the same understanding. In this I must trust my reality with God and others must trust their own.

Joel gave the promise of visions and dreams and these I believe will continue to take place until the final revelation of Christ. When we come face to face with the ultimate reality, Christ, of whom all creation waits, dreams and visions will pass away. We will see face to face.

I want to devote an entire posting to what I describe as a, "new ability", given through the Holy Spirit. It is one of greatest and possibly, least confessed, treasures given to followers of Christ. The witness of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer is a new ability in communicating with the Lord whom we love.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Discerning the will of God pt7

"If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you. I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you. jn14/Peterson, the message

The account of the Passover that we find in John differs from the other gospels. John wrote in intimate detail of the washing of the disciples feet. It is as if he has forgotten about the words of Jesus in regards to the breaking of his body and shedding of his blood. The omission might be because he wrote many years after the other gospels were recorded. His message fills in some blanks, as the other gospels fill in some blanks left by John. You might ask, how can that be if he wrote later. It is a God thing called inspiration.  The institution of The Lord's Supper is an example.

Another great contribution by John is the dialogue and discourse John gives us in what we know as the Upper Room Discourse, which includes Jesus' great prayer for his people and unity. The first portion of the discourse gives us some very heartwarming promises concerning the presence and communication coming from the Holy Spirit. Jesus makes it plain to the disciples that he is going back to heaven and to his Father. He also knows that the heart of man needs to be encouraged and empowered. He promises them that the Comforter will come to them.

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon certain individuals for very specific reasons. The craftsmen that built the temples were empowered by the Spirit. Specific leaders were empowered for certain times and duties. Prophets were filled and moved by the Spirit as they gave voice to the message from God. The vast majority of faithful Jews never experienced the awesome presence of God's Spirit.

The promise of the Paraclete, (helper,counselor, one called alongside) in the upper room discourse will become the foundational words of Jesus concerning a revolutionary method of communication. He has talked to the disciples about unity and that he and the father are one and that the disciple will become one with him. It will be the direct message of Christ brought to the spiritual senses of believers through the presence of God alive in each believer.

A new and living way is going to be opened to all believers in Christ. On the day of Pentecost the promise of God found fulfillment as the Holy Spirit was poured out upon one hundred and twenty followers of Christ as they were gathered in a time of united expectancy. The promise of Joel came in as a fire and wind. From that day until now, believers confess this to be the birth of the church.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the subsequent new ability(gift) to listen to and understand the will of God did not bring to an end other methods of communication. Joel in his prophetic message told of the coming of the Spirit and the continuation of God communicating through dreams and visions.

As the presence of God now indwells believers we will begin to find and understand a direct relationship between giftedness and discerning and obeying the will of God.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thoughts on Humility and Illumination

A question came up about the connection between humility and illumination. Is there a connection between humility before God and our life receiving more illumination from God. I did not find a verse that explicitly states that humble people receive more light from God. But, there are many verses that tie these spiritual attributes together.

Even a brief search of the concordance provides plenty of evidence of the danger of pride and the excellence of humility. Consider, "God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble." Or, "Who will ascend(light) to the hill of the Lord or stand in His Holy Place(great light) ? He that has clean hands a pure heart." Another, "Six things that God hates, Yes seven are an abomination to Him, a look of pride...."

Let's consider at a bit of a deeper understanding John's epistle. Especially his thought on fellowship and illumination. In 1John 1: 5-7 John shines light on the constant and consistent possibility of fellowship and growth. Think of it in this way. We dig into God's word and we understand more, more about the revelation of the Triune God, more about the condition of mankind. A true knowledge of mankind and his dispositions becomes clear.

I believe that the more we understand our true condition, humility comes to life. W desire to know and understand more, illumination comes, humility grows. I really know what my life would be without the grace and mercy of God. That inner knowledge is the root of humility. As humility grows I continue to cast myself upon the mercy seat of Christ and seek more of His illuminating presence.

A fellowship of understanding and growth that can continue,(walking in the light) until final and full illumination comes as we enter his heavenly realm.