Posts tagged ‘religion’

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 22, 2010

Can God Trust You?

How much do you think God Trusts you? What does God trust you with? Would you like more from God? Do you think you could handle more? What would you say is too much for you to handle? These and other ponder provoking questions could be part of a savvy Gallup or George Barna group survey but no. These are just small pieces in of one of the major points of development that God wants expanded in every believer, Stewardship!!!

Stewards are the most trusted servants, the guys with all the keys. The first use in the Bible is where Abraham is lamenting having no son. The closet thing he has is Eliezer his steward who was his heir if no son was forth coming. The last use is Paul writing to Titus using steward of God to describe the function of a Bishop then listing the traits needed to be a Bishop/Steward. So you see Stewardship is a pretty big deal.

If properly understood Stewardship is literally foundational to our spiritual growth. If misunderstood well, consider the following. As men why does God give us wandering eyes and heavy libidos that are their weightiest when we are youngest and most foolish? God is not cruel or foolish but He does expect us to possess our own vessels. It is not supposed to be easy nor are we expected to be perfect, it is the effort and humility to reach beyond ourselves towards God for strength. In admitting weakness but not excusing our shortcomings we balance reliance on His Grace with our desire and responsibility to please and obey Him in humility.

This is how we progress in stewardship, part by God’s Grace and refiner’s fire and part by self-control and meekness, strength under control. Believing in His Grace and Faithfulness without abusing it and walking humbly within our abilities are what God is looking for in His Stewards. These are part of a foundation of character He can add to and build on.

As men we need to look back to that letter from Paul to Titus. What he gives greatest and first priority to for Titus in his search for; Bishops, stewards, elders, those that are qualified to be in spiritual service and leadership is that they have a successful marriage and family. Can they possess their vessels, love their wives as Christ loved the church, sacrificially that is, and in harmony raise Godly children? Then do people speak well of them? Can they handle their own money and not be greedy? So forth and so on.

God will put things in our lives and some under our stewardship. The first are our gifts, abilities and natural drives. Second are Christ, His Word and Holy Spirit to redeem and lead us away from the first gifts being our destruction. The second set guides us towards offering the first set back to Him in thankful submission and humble service. After this the key to having more keys in The Kingdom is having the self-control and sacrificial love about you to be a loving husband and father. You might remember that God has called Himself “a husband to the “widow” and “Father” to us all. This is His Heart and a high and needed Call in our carnal self-serving times.

So before you blast off to do your boys-night-out or softball practice or consider strategy over the stringer of lovelies you might be juggling. Ask yourself, do I want more of God and from God? Then consider how well you are handling your vessel and foundational relationships. If He cannot trust us with the things of this world do not expect much Heavenly power and responsibility to be coming your way here or in eternity. You might also remember what happened to the guy that put his talent in the ground. He lost it all but remember he chose to put in the ground.

After all this sanctimony, seriously consider the priority God places on family. Consider the example of sacrificial love that He sat before us. How much are you willing to give up? This is what determines how much you will receive. How much do you think you can handle, Brother? You might be surprised to find out that God has more faith and hope in you than you do.

July 8, 2010

You Should Be Committed!

In such a self-serving hedonistic time as ours how do folks make, manage and maintain a health marriage? Interestingly, this is one area where following Christ’s example might find us a bit stumped. Jesus never married. I do not care what Tom Hanks says. The apostle Paul was married back in his hometown of Tarsus. However, he could not even get his ministry going until both Tarsus and the wife were behind him. His advice basically on marriage was “if you don’t have to, don’t”.

Now we could lay out a good Christian comedy routine about here but marriage is not a joke, nor is divorce a laughing matter. Paul valued marriage but was committed to the ministry. It had to be his priority. He had learned that priorities mattered and will take us places. Indeed this is my first point. Marriage must be a priority that we are committed to in order to make it a trip worth taking.

I can hear you saying,”Well DUH Mike”! Just stick with me. Commitments are really about goals. This is where any couple can completely blow it. Trips can be nice but if we disagree on the destination, we have troubles. Too many couples, including the Christian ones, take off on their little train trip of life long love with rosy feeling, warm hearts and good intentions. Some soon find themselves disappointed and going back to the conductor because they did not have tickets to the same locale.

Goals, mutual goals must be in place if we are committed to reaching them. Having no mutual goals means, you have no real commitment. Mutual goals must also be more than wanting to have children and raising them from the same page but this is a good start. Sadly, you would be surprised how many folks even overlook this before signing the papers.

Here is my advice. Sit down together and talk about each others wants, needs, hopes and dreams. List them out, then begin to plan the short, middle, and long term plans to get to those relational destinations. In the effort, you will create mutual goals and mutual understanding. Even if the wants, hopes and dreams do not all come true. You will be fulfilling more than a few serious needs for a good and Godly marriage. Even if you do not like making lists JUST SIT DOWN AND TALK!

Take this advice and apply just half of what Jesus walked and talked about concerning, forgiveness, meekness, kindness and self-sacrifice. That is the example that will smooth out all of life’s travels. Then use those tickets for two on a trip well worth taking with a destination that is mutual and truly heavenly for those committed to getting there together.