Friday, April 29, 2022

The Role of the Holy Spirit

Currently at my church, we are going through a teaching series based on the Holy Spirit. That prompted me to try to remember if in all my years of attending church, if I had ever heard anyone teach on the Holy Spirit, and to the best of my recollection, the answer is no. 

So I'm going to start with some of the basics of understanding the Holy Spirit, several of which I was ignorant about before our church started this series.

Let's examine three different scriptures, starting with 1st Corinthians 12:13, where the apostle Paul teaches that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior.  “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 

Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not belong to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

These three passages make it clear that the Holy Spirit is received at the moment of salvation. Paul could not say that we all were baptized by one Spirit and all given one Spirit to drink if not all of the Corinthian believers possessed the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 is even stronger, stating that if a person does not have the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ. Therefore, the possession of the Spirit is an identifying factor of the possession of salvation. Further, the Holy Spirit could not be the “seal of salvation” (Ephesians 1:13-14) if He is not received at the moment of salvation. There are many other scriptures that teach that salvation is secured the moment we receive Christ as Savior. (John 3:5-16 being just one of many)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Light In The Darkness


"Sometimes what waits in the darkness, transcends the darkness." 

What a crazy time that we currently occupy on the timeline of human existence. Even though we are not faced with the hopelessness of the Dark Ages, or the survivalist challenges of our most distant ancestors, nevertheless we are filled with numerous challenges, unique to our age, that threaten our abilities to live a life that is not plagued with fear. 

Just one of the many pressures that we are facing is a once-in-a-century disease that has ravaged the world and divides culture as no event perhaps in history has ever accomplished. It has sown the seeds of discord and distrust in people of all ages and that is the recipe for a fall of our civilization. If we can no longer trust our leaders, than our own efforts will turn from obedience to rebellion, with the moral certainty that we are left with no other choice than to wrest power away from those who would lead us astray. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

"The Decision"


“No man, not even our heroes, should be expected to carry the burden of our dreams.” Allan Barra

Mickey Mantle was one of the biggest stars in American sports history, ruling Major League Baseball in the 1950s and '60s. This was back when baseball was the number one sport in America. It was the equivalent of the modern day NFL, NBA, and college sports all wrapped in one package. And Mickey, along with Willie Mays, were the stars of that universe. 

I had the great fortune to grow up in one of the golden decades for baseball, with players that were still protected by sports journalists and without the coverage that today's players have to endure. As a child my knowledge of my favorite players came from newspapers, weekly TV broadcasts, and baseball cards. What I didn't know about my favorite players, myth stood by to fill in the gaps. And so their stature grew in my childhood eyes until they exceeded mere mortal expectations.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Walking In The Light

In the book of Galatians, a New Testament book written by Paul, he spends a great deal of time discussing the topic of freedom. Freedom to choose our paths in life is one of the central facets of our humanity. Which is why each time I read Galatians, especially chapter 4, I'm reminded of a story I heard in a sermon many years ago. The sermon was based on a story by Russell Moore, about his wife Maria, and their adoption of two young boys from a Russian orphanage. 

"When my wife Maria and I at long last received the call that the legal process was over, we returned to Russia to pick up our new sons, only to discover that their transition from orphanage to family was more difficult than we had supposed. We dressed the boys in outfits our parents had bought for them. We nodded our thanks to the orphanage personnel and walked out into the sunlight, to the terror of the two boys. They’d never seen the sun, and they’d never felt the wind. They had never heard the sound of a car door slamming or had the sensation of being carried along at 60 miles an hour down a road. I noticed that they were shaking, and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance.  I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, “That place is a pit! If only you knew what’s waiting for you: a home with a Mommy and a Daddy who love you, grand parents and great-grand parents and cousins and playmates and McDonald’s Happy Meals!” 

But all they knew was the orphanage. 

It was filthy, gloomy, and devoid of hope, but they had no other reference point. 

It was home.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

True Power

Most people think of eternal life as beginning at the point of mortal death. Of course, our entrance into the presence of God does occur at death, and we get a new body at the resurrection. But, in many tangible ways, our eternal life actually begins when we place our faith in Christ. It could be said that in some ways, for believers, eternity is now.

The Apostle Peter describes it this way: "His (Jesus Christ's) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Much of what it means to be a believer is found in God's power and promises. We have hope of heaven because of his power and promises. We are to live with a confident expectation that God has the power to fulfill every promise he has made to us. This hope is based on faith, and confirmed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The proof of our eternal life is God's presence in our lives today. Eternity can and should be a reality for every believer.

Monday, April 04, 2022

True Identity

Did you know that every decision in your life is based on who you think you are? In psychology, identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person (self-identity) or group (cultural identity). The process of identity can be creative or destructive.

If you believe that you are a person of integrity, then chances are that your choices will reflect that belief. If you believe that you are worthless, than unfortunately many of your choices will probably reflect that belief as well. But what if I were to show you how you can exchange your identity, as an imperfect human, for the perfection of God, Himself? Would you be interested in learning more?

The book of Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I mean, who doesn't love to get compliments? Well, starting with chapter 1 God shows us a beautiful reminder of who we are in Christ. It is a running description of all that we are in Christ, and all that He has done for us through Christ. In fact, chapters 1-3 all point to this eternal truth. 

Sunday, April 03, 2022

True Freedom

"It's all about me."

"It's not about you." 

Which of these two statements best represents your own personal belief system? The first statement can be applied to almost everything that Western Culture embraces. It's all about my wants, my desires, my comfort, my way, my stuff, the list is almost endless. 

The second statement is the opening line to Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life." From the opening lines of this book the gauntlet is thrown down regarding the conflict between culture and the Bible. 

But what does the Bible say about which belief system we should choose?

Friday, April 01, 2022

The Story of the Battle of Little Big Horn

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this sentence, "It is an interesting dynamic, that history is generally not only written by the winners, but by the surviving winners. They get to selectively remember not only their decisions, but in some cases they will choose to discard facts when those facts conflict with their own pathway to glory." Today I would like to amend this opinion to add the following statement, "It is an interesting dynamic, that history is not just written by the winners, but by the surviving winners who possessed the passion and resources needed to tell their story."

Today's blog demonstrates the importance of that amended sentence. 

General Armstrong Custer, whose early career showed little promise, (Custer graduated last in his West Point class of 1861), soon made up for his lack of scholastic achievement in bravery and skill in the heat of battle. He fought in the First Battle of Bull Run and Gettysburg and by the time the war had ended he had been promoted to Major General in charge of a Cavalry division. He supposedly had over 11 horses shot out from underneath him in the Civil War and unlike most generals of that era, he led his troops from the front rather than the rear. He was also known to be hot-headed and often made rash decisions during battle as well as in his civilian life. This trait would arguably end up costing him his life . . .