Posts tagged ‘faith’

September 14, 2010

Who Has the Spirit?

Who has the Spirit, the Holy Spirit that is? This question has been a source of pride, envy debate, excommunication and division in the Body of Christ since the day Peter encountered greedy Simon the sorcerer to the Council of Constantinople’s rejection of the Montanist revival in 381A.D. clear through to our purpose driven day. The answers vary depending on who and how you ask. My intention is to fill in a bit and pack down for us between the sides of this divide.

Let’s have a quick recap. Our Triune God plans the redemption of mankind through the shed blood of The Son, who ascends to send The Holy Spirit and intercede for us at the right hand of The Father, fulfilling the promise of the Father, empowering the restored believers to make disciples the world over. Amazingly wonderful! Divine Grace! Praise the Lord! So what’s the problem? Why do we have division over that which fulfilled the ultimate and loving intention of a Holy God towards fallen man? As with most trouble one encounters, the weak link tends to be with people.

All believers at conversion are sealed with and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Scripturally it is more accurate to say you have the Holy Spirit in your heart than Christ Himself. Part of the Spirits ministry is to sanctify, refine and empower the believer towards Christ-likeness. He is the active inspiration of every writer in Scripture yet, all He speaks points and testifies to Jesus as the Christ, Son of the living God. Still sounds good, clear and worthy of praise you say? Well, here’s the rub: people, power, gifts and positions.

The first century church full of The Spirit led by the Apostles was well, Charismatic or Gift-functional. Divine gifts from The Father, Son and Holy Spirit were full and flowing. Tongues, prophecy, knowledge, healings as well as the positional gifts of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher and many others were needed and in abundance. Signs and wonders followed the true and anointed servants of The Lord. Hands were laid, words were given and risks were taken in Faith and the power and purpose of God met them there at their bold, fresh point of Faith. The world of men was forever changed.

Then that first generation began to pass away. Gnostics and other wiley heretics and common con men saw opportunity for high profile and profit in being the Prophet. My how some things never change? I could launch from here into a mass of history, names, dates and movements. Let us just say it was at this point the Church started becoming more institutional, self protective and increasingly powerful by the worldly measure and sadly less powerful in the Spiritual measure. For a fine overview of the dates, places and people I have sacrificed to brevity I recommend 2000 Years of Spirit-Led Revival by Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt.

Today’s divisions fall along the lines of:
1. Those who insist that all the gifts and tongues have passed away except for the gifts they still use.
2. Those that insist all the gifts and tongues are still amongst us and very much for today,
3. Those that muddle in the middle debating 2nd. and 3rd. acts of Grace and other Theological points and ponderings.
4. Those that just want to be seen on Sunday mornings but home by 12:20pm and just do not care either way.

I caution all who may spend too much time debating and contesting their brother’s theology and doctrine and loose sight of the purpose and ministry of the Holy Spirit that indwells us all. All the gifts were given for the training and equipping of the Saints for the WORK of Service/Ministry. The encouragement, edification and building up of the brethren and the practical needs of the Body of Christ for functionality. The function is making disciples in every nation of the world. Remember?

By Grace through Faith we find salvation in Christ. All we receive from God we receive through like Faith. We need all we can get from God and should only limit what is possible in accordance with His Word and our point of Faith in it. One should never dismiss acts taken in Faith with a heart of service and humility on the basis of opinion or doctrinal preference. The men and women of God found in His book never suffered such handicaps on possibilities or outcomes.

For a very balanced perspective on the topics I have only thumb-nailed, I recommend Perspectives on Spirit Baptism edited by Chad Owen Brand. Brand is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Associate Dean for Biblical and Theological studies at Boyce College. His book brings together esteemed theologians from Catholic, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Charismatic and Nazarene traditions and though written in a scholar’s hand, maps out middle ground for the Separated Brethren to come together and continue the Great Commission in unity. To the Glory of the Father, in the Name of Jesus the Son, in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

July 11, 2010

Just Past the Challenges

Mornings around here start out with a nearly peculiar amount of peace and quiet. Around 5am inside our mountain home near the Crest of the Blue Ridge little stirs in the wee hours. That is except my wife Pam who by my wake-up has been rolling for an hour or more. Her fleeting fingers in a whirl across her computer firing data via satellite to several servers that know no rest. The servers are located in Pam and her partner Melissa’s secret downtown headquarters. It is there that the combined efforts of several dozen employees situated in five states and the District of Columbia converge at a silent, shaded city locale. All these coordinated from somewhere way up in the hills where the air is sweeter and life just a wee bit neater.

Rolling down the long stairs, having hazily greeted my already busy spouse, my way is straight to the fresh coffee that is waiting. Ground with care some hours before, the black and silver high tech brewer having been programmed with precision to jump start my day to the appropriate R.P.M.’s needed for an at home dad of seven with a set of Quadruplets in the middle.

This early, easy time is set aside for pronderance, prayer, caffeine and a quick check of current events. A sweet morning respite set in the calm of a large, warm and temporarily silent family room. All to allow for my much recommended emotional, psychical, spiritual and intellectual refocusing that is so needed after one of our “average” days and before the next.

You see, 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, several showers, a slew of tooth brushing, the removal of 20 pounds of “jammies”, donning of 40 pounds of clean “school clothes” one quarter mile trip to the bus stop and a quick jaunt to pre-school will all occur in the 90 minutes following. Of course there are always multiple questions, several side tracks and special instructions particular to that day’s special activities. Not to mention a few chores, at least one false start and some adjustment or the other for weather conditions. Usually meaning either, “Yes, I said you need a jacket!”, “No, it’s raining, no flip-flops!” or the classic “Those are your brothers shorts, that is why they are so tight and you need long pants!”

Once this bit of introductory goings-on are settled it is time for a deep breath. It never fails around then that the growing green beauty that rolls into blue hued peaks just past the little church and country store across the pond and pasture always steals my attention for a quick moment. After this it is time to deal with the upkeep of 8 horses, eight dogs, Lord knows how many spayed and neutered cats; I am guessing around 8, a smattering of cattle and all the other things that need attention on a 40 acre mountain farm.

Now do not get me wrong. On most mornings Pam and I are able go about several pleasant mutual activities and responsibilities. Sadly many of these have been compressed between doctors, therapy and occasional medical procedures for the last several months. All of which the result of someone running a most conspicuous country stop sign and our unexpected deceleration from 40 M.P.H. to 0 M.P.H. in about .8 seconds. Yea, this slows you down for some time to come but it has not stopped us or our mini-mega-family of nine. It has just added a bit more unwelcomed challenge.
You see the moral of this story is that life is a challenge. Raising higher order multiples, running a mid-sized small business, at home daddying, overcoming a bit of pain, bush-hogging the back twenty all might seem a bit daunting and it is. You have to take those moments, deep breaths and sweet respites. In them the blessings given and beauty surrounding awaits to be appreciated. Chock full of healthy perspectives and a selfless sense of purpose that comes from being thankful. I know Pam and I are one lucky couple here at the Crest of the Blue Ridge. Even if our days are way full, our strides temporarily a bit slower and most of them still up hills and down.

Taking this quick peek at our world, whether you see the challenges, the blessings or both understand that we are all pretty much the same. Just in a different place, with a different scene outside our windows. So, take a bit of hybrid-hillbilly advice and take your own moment to breath it all in. City, country or suburb surroundings make little difference. What you do on behalf of that next group of at home dads, moms, parents, entrepreneurs and busy adults of the future is your chance to bless back in the face of all your blessings and challenges. If you will stop and look hard, just past the challenges you will see the blessings right there. Asking those questions, putting on the wrong pants and wearing their flip-flops out into the rain.