Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

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QUOTE (Alfred Edersheim)

March 16, 2016

Alfred_Edersheim“So true is it that all sin is ultimately against the Lord; so bitter is the root of self; and so terrible the power of evil in its constantly growing strength, till it casts out all fear of God or care for man.”

“The absolutely highest stage of intercourse with God is the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the New Testament Church, when man’s individuality is not superseded nor suppressed, but transformed, and thus conformed to Him in spiritual fellowship.”
~ Alfred Edersheim

In honor of Alfred Edersheim, an Austrian Biblical scholar and author,  who died on this day in 1889.

Resources:
Today in Christian History
Alfred Edersheim>Quotes

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WORSHIP WEDNESDAY (Chris Tomlin)

February 24, 2016

Christian faith is ever to be growing and transforming to the end of life for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Transforming faith reaches the depths of the heart, untangles the tentacles of affection, and reforms the very form of a child of God’s soul.  The maturation of faith awakens early and often under the clear understanding and belief that the God of the Universe, the God of Creation, the Great I Am, is the Best Father of those who are His. The essence of Christian faith is not the general adoration of the unknowable.  The child daily abides with the Father whom he knows and loves.  Within that relationship, the divine power of Spirit transforming faith is released.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!  Luke 11:11

I worshiped this morning to this reminder from Chris Tomlin to the reality of who God is – a good, good, Father.

“The child asks of the Father whom he knows.
Thus, the essence of Christian prayer
is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition.
The right way to approach God is to stretch out
our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

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“When I wish I’d never been born…” – Feb 6

February 6, 2015

“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,…” Job 3:11-13

English: It was a 'dark and stormy night' ... ...

A sleepless mind fills with thoughts from visions of the night. The assault of daily troubles awaits the cover of darkness when conscious defenses teeter upon dreams. Thoughts are brought in stealth. Ears receive the whisper of a powerlessness to remedy what tomorrow holds. Trouble weighs the sleepless mind to suffocating depth in the same feathery pillow meant to comfort.

…man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.  (Job 5:7)

Trapped by troubles, exhaustion breeds dread into a desperate groan for release. Thoughts are conjured in this state of malaise that no stalwart practitioner of manliness will ever confess.

“If only I had never been born…”
“If only I would never awake…”
“If only my heart would fail…”
“If only a vein in my head might burst…”
“If only for a quick act of random violence…”

“If only…then I would be free from all that troubles my soul.”
“If only…then I would have rest.”

fall treeI have never had the troubles of Job. I have never endured the trials that he bore. Yet, I heard the same whispers as he under the cover of darkness within the privacy of my own skull. Maybe, Job and I are alone in our confused search for rest but I doubt that.  I have never admitted to these thoughts because I did not want my loved ones to think that I was suicidal and in need of counseling.

I am not suicidal and neither was Job.

The desire of Job’s lament was not for death. I believe that his thoughts meandered to the loss of existence as the release from the burden of his trial. It is a path that my own mind has meandered.  Thoughts of death are a confused route to achieve an intrinsic desire that few ever identify accurately.

Our souls long for rest.

Rest is what every soul desires when the yoke of a fallen world weighs heavily upon us.  Consider what we truly want when we bear the laden burden of troubles:

When we are in pain … we want rest from hurt.
When loves are gone…we want rest from heart break.
When abandoned …we want rest from loneliness.
When confronted with failure … we want rest from expectations.
When penniless…we want rest from need.
When addicted…we want rest from desire.

In times of great trials, our flesh cries out for this intrinsic desire – rest. We all come to the same desire as Job, whether it is due to great trials or insignificant annoyances. We all want rest. We want enduring, everlasting, rest.

This type of rest comes only to those who are in Christ. Death is only a source of rest to those who will enter into the loving arms of their heavenly Father when their time in this fallen world is over.

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, for I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-29)

All of creation groans for the rest that Christ promises to those who come to him. As Children of God, we can know this rest in part, as we continue to walk in the Spirit along our individual paths of sanctification Christ has pioneered for us. We will not experience this perfect rest until we come to our eternal home.

It is in those dark nights, when my soul is laboring and heavily laden that the Spirit himself bears witness with my spirit. The Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God and if a child then an heir – an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17) The Spirit reminds me that I am His despite my confused thoughts for rest. I don’t want this life to end for a mere escape from trouble; a jump into the abyss.

I just want to go home.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21)

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  (Philippians 1:23b)

Like Paul, I just want to be with Christ, which will be far better than anything this world has to offer. My hope is what comes through in those dark nights of indecipherable groaning. It is the inward groaning of a Child of God eagerly awaiting his adoption as son and the redemption of his body. (Romans 8:23)

For in this hope we were saved.  (Romans 8:24)

I believe that it is in those nights when my mind swirls with dark  “If only…” thoughts that the Spirit, who is always with me, steps in and helps me in my weakness.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (Romans 8:26-27)

It is the Spirit who takes up my improper, inarticulate, longings to pray and intercedes on my behalf. Most of the time, I don’t know what I really need but on some occasions I am sure the Spirit’s intercession has included, “your beloved needs rest.” I imagine that in some cases  my Father’s response to the Spirit was:

Refresh his hope.

Remind him that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to My purpose.

Remind him that no one can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Open his mind to the reality that if God is for him, who can be against him.

Show him that he is a conqueror through Christ who loves him.

Ask him, who can bring a charge against him, God’s elect.

These thoughts and so many more have come to my mind in response to groaning, “if only…” thoughts. We truly have a great and awesome Helper, who knows what we need and when we need it. He has always been faithful to me and I know that He always will be, even when I get confused and don’t know what I really want – to rest in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending your Spirit.  Thank you for giving me a hope beyond this world and all its troubles.  Help me to keep my eyes on the Spirit and to walk faithful with you.  Spirit, thank you for interceding for me.  Thank you for giving meaning to my confused groanings.  Thank you for sustaining my soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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FAST FLEEING – Jan 25

January 25, 2015

“You have neither art nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God” Acts 8:21

I have done it to myself. training bible

At the beginning of the year, I laid out my annual training plan.(Training Plan)  I have been following the plan very consistently. It has been helpful to have a purposeful plan for both my physical and spiritual training. My January has been more productive than any in recent memory and I believe that is due to these plans.

For me, the advantage of a training plan is that it allows you to schedule, as a self-coach or personal trainer, the activities that you know are necessary for continued improvement. I rarely feel like doing hard things. Therefore, the hard workouts don’t seem to come up on my playlist when I am making my selection on what I feel like doing.

I have just such an activity schedule for next week. I placed this activity on my calendar in the comfort of my Christmas vacation. It is an activity that I know I should do, but I never get done; I am scheduled to fast next week.

Fast! What have I done to myself?

My earlier coaching-self knows the importance of fasting. The Coach knows the scripture references on fasting. The Coach spouts his most convincing passage to fast:

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.” (Matt 9:14-15)

However, my present training-self immediately resorted to the typical response, when he realized what was scheduled for him. My trainee-self rebelled against my coaching-self and tried to get out of it.

I had double scheduled this week and was planning on going to my son’s NCFCA speech and debate tournament. I could not possibly fast through that week.

This excuse normally works.  Fasting is never convenient.  I usually can come up with some reason as to why I can’t go without eating.

But then, my work scheduled changed. I have several critical projects that will not let me take next week off…suddenly I can fast again.

“Fine; I’ll do it,” my trainee-self conceded to my coaching-self.

My training-self then began to re-hash all the old reservations about fasting. I have not done well in past fasts. I don’t feel very spiritual when I fast. I actually feel the opposite. All sorts of nastiness comes out of me when I fast. Fasting seems to be counter-productive. The trainee-self made a convincing argument that the Coach doesn’t know what he is talking about by inserting an activity that is clearly not going to develop continued improvement. Fasting is not for me. What is he thinking?

This excuse has always been the closing argument to get out of fasting.  Fasting makes me feel bad and very un-spiritual.  Therefore, I should not do it.

And then, I listened to this video by John Piper:

One of the purposes of fasting is to actually expose all the nastiness that I normally can keep hidden under a full belly. Fasting allows us the opportunity to deal with our nasty inner selves through prayer as they are revealed.

“Alright, alright, alright; I’ll do it,” was the capitulation of my training conscious.

I resolved to the fact that I am going to fast this coming week when the Trainee took one last attempt to get out of the maniacal scheduling of the Coach.  My nephew did a month-long juice fast about a year ago. I was amazed at the amount of weight he lost. I have been trying to lose weight. The Trainee began to wonder how much weight he might be able to lose in a week-long fast. It would be awesome if I break my metabolism loose and drop a substantial amount of weight. I began to focus more on the athletic benefits of a fast rather than the spiritual.
However, the Trainee immediately recognized that his heart was not right regarding the purpose of fasting. “It will be useless,” the trainee reasoned. I do not want to be like Simon the Magician who tried to buy spiritual gifts for all the wrong reasons. I should not fast with a heart that is not right before God.

This is a particularly sweet excuse.  The “my heart is not right” excuse has gotten me out of a lot of things that I did not want to do.

And then, I read verse 22:

Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.  (Acts 8:22)

I suddenly had the first nasty heart condition to repent before the Lord as part of my fasting period.

“I give up. I’ll do it,” the humbled Trainee whispered.

All the debate within my own head, reveals why the Spirit has consistently laid fasting upon the heart of my coaching-self. As all of my excuses have fallen, I have come to an even firmer resolution that I need to do this hard thing. I need to fast. My rebellious training-self has a lot of hidden nastiness that needs to be dealt with.

I realize that this resolution would probably never have happened if my coaching-self had not placed it into the training schedule. That is the power of a plan. Therefore, I am going to fast. As ugly as it may be, I am confident that my future self will be grateful to the obedience, even though it has been reluctant, of the present me in following the Spirit’s call to obedience.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being so reluctant to give up my food.  Forgive me for all the excuses that I have come up with not to do what I believe you have been drawing me to do.  Help in the coming week.  Lord, enable this period of fasting be a blessing to my soul and bring glory to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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QUOTE (Johann Gerhard) – Oct 17

October 17, 2014

johann“Rise up, faithful soul, and love that highest Good, in whom every good thing exists, without which there is nothing that is truly good. No creature is able to satisfy our will because no creature maintains perfect goodness, but rather has only shared in such. A sort of stream of good is transmitted to them from the Divine, but the source always remains in God. Why then do we want to eagerly pursue a stream that has been abandoned by the source? Any good in the creature is a kind of image of that perfect good that is in God, yes indeed, that is God himself. Why then do we who have been laid hold of by the image want to desert the very thing itself? The dove sent out of Noah’s ark was not able find a place where its foot could rest in the turning of the waters (Genesis 8:8). So also, our soul is not able to find in any of the numerous things under the moon anything that completely satisfies our desires because all of these things are unreliable and fragile.”
~Johann Gerhard

In honor of Johann Gerhard, German Lutheran theologian, who was born on this day in 1582.

Resources:
October 17 – Today in Christian History
Sacred Meditations

 

 

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QUOTE (Theodor Zahn) – Oct 10

October 10, 2014

English: Theodor Zahn, Professor of Theology, ...

“When we look around, we see many who never seem to fight, but who follow their natural inclinations, the customs of the world, without any perceptible resistance; and yet they are baptized Christians, for whom, so it seems, Christ has lived, fought, and conquered in vain. We see others, again, who confess the same Lord with us, and who have, as a matter of principle, renounced the Evil One, and yet we must close our eyes very tightly if we are not to see with sorrow that they never withstand the very simplest trial. We have also known other Christians who seemed to be brave fighters; we have seen them standing firm when others wavered; we have rejoiced over them; we have encouraged ourselves by their courage and strength. But in decisive moments we have seen them bend the knee to the Evil One who has power in the world.

It is very saddening, even discouraging. It might almost tempt us to unbelief in the victorious power of truth, and to superstition as to the impossibility of conquering sin.

But for this very reason, I say: “God be praised, that He sent His Son to us, that He might be tempted like as we are, and yet remain free from sin.” Let everyone who is tempted to despair in the midst of the battle, look, not on himself or his own strength or weakness; not on the thousands who fall on his left, and the ten thousands who fall on his right hand, but let him look at Jesus. “Behold the Man.” …They know also that it is not the destiny of man to live on in sinful weakness, and to die conquered by sin, but first of all to fight, and then to conquer under the Captain of salvation.”

~Theodor Zahn

In honor of Theodor Zahn, a German biblical scholar and author of the 3-volume “Introduction to the New Testament”, who was born on this day in 1838.

Resources:
October 10 – Today in Christian History
Christ’s Temptation and Ours – A Sermon By Theodor Zahn

 

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Balance & Rhythm in Swimming and Life – July 1

July 1, 2014

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

I had a great swim the other day. It was a swim that finally felt right after a week of unsatisfying attempts. I have been getting back to regular swimming. A week was lost to business travel and my post – Boise Ironman 70.3 training break had stretched out longer than originally intended, resulting in irregular pool attendance.

Swimming technique goes quickly with inactivity. The delicate balance and timing of a smooth swimming stroke can easily be lost to a few weeks without a reminder. However, it is a wonderfully meditative sensation when one finds that intricate rhythm of a smooth free-style stroke.

I found my lost free-style stroke the other day and it was wonderful.

reachThere are three basic aspects of a free-style stoke. (Just a disclaimer, I have never been coached in swimming. Everything I know about swimming, I learned on Youtube and blogs.)

The Reach: The forward arm enters the water at a point inside the shoulder line and only fully extended under the water. I like to feel the full stretch of my forward arm timed with the rotation of my torso and exit of my other arm from the water in the recovery. The reach is important because it helps keep you from sinking. Also, a long reach increases the length of your arm which gives more power to the catch and pull phase.

catch 2The Catch & Pull: The forward arm should stay fully extended for a brief moment before “catching” the water – this enhances gliding through the water. The forward arm then catches the water with the hand and the forearm. It is important not to churn the water but to “feel it”.  This is where the power in the stroke comes from. The arm accelerates throughout the stroke as you rotate your torso using the power of your core, right up to the point of exit, when the hand passes the hip.

recovery 2The Recovery: Once the arm is pushing back (when the hand has passed the elbow) the elbow begins to straighten. When the arm exits the water, the elbow immediately begins to flex again, staying high with the hand close to the body. The exit of the arm is important because it causes the rotation of the torso, which reduces drag through the water and sets up a long, stretching reach of the forward arm.  It also let’s you breath – which is important.

All the aspects of the free style stroke need to be synchronized and balanced for an efficient swimming stroke. I have read that a swimmer with deficient technique can expend 50% more energy than one using a stroke that is balanced through the various stages. Swimming is unforgiving of poor technique.

All the stages of the free-style stroke need to be in balance and in rhythm. When it happens, swimming becomes easy.

reach 2I was thinking about the Christian life as I enjoyed re-discovering the rhythm of my swimming technique. The Christian life needs to be a balance between the future, the present, and the past – all blended into a seamless rhythm of continued forward progress; otherwise known as sanctification.

The Reach (Future): We are told to set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). We have to stretch for this hope. When we are reaching for the hope of the Gospel, it lengthens us; we can glide through troubles and not sink into the cares of this world. In addition, a hope that is set on the full assurance of our faith corrects selfish motivations and gives power to our service and obedience in the present.

catchThe Catch & Pull (Present): The power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in the present of the Christian life. The present is where we do the work of service and obedience. We reach forward to our hope, check our motivations and then catch the opportunities of our life. The power of our daily lives comes by faithfully using our God-given strengths, being sensitive to the Spirit (feeling His presence), and then pressing into our firm foundation. The key to a powerful present is consistently pressing into the Spirit throughout our day. We need to be consciously setting our mind on the things of the Spirit from the time we wake to the moment we close our eyes to sleep. That is how we make the most of the present.

recoveryThe Recovery (Past): The Christian has to learn how to handle the past. Lingering in the past will only drag us down. Therefore, we need to exit the past cleanly – forgiving who we need to forgive; confessing what we need to confess; correcting what needs to be corrected – and then immediately get back to the Hope that lays before us. It is this quick transition from past experiences to future hope that will lengthen our time for good works in the present, which give the Spirit more opportunities to manifest His glorious power in our daily lives.

The Christian life is a wonderful blend of future, present, and past. I know how easy it is to lose that precious rhythm:

I have neglected meditating on the Hope that I have been called to.
I have churned away trying to please God with my good works in proof of my salvation.
I lingered over thoughts of the past that have drug me to a stop.

20131001-235329Throughout those periods of life, I could feel that my spiritual life was not quite right. Consistency has always brought me back to the wonderful rhythm of a life synchronized with the Spirit. Whenever I am not feeling it, I still jump into the deep water of my Lord and Savior. Taking a break from God never is to your advantage.

Our helper, the Spirit, is the one who always corrects our deficient and inefficient living. Let’s get back to living in the Spirit, for His glory, in all the aspects of our lives – past, present, and future.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for allowing my life not to feel right. Thank you for giving me your Spirit to be my helper – to teach me and correct me.  Lord, continue to work in my life.  Show me where I am out of balance.  Help me to come into rhythm with your Spirit in all aspects of my life.  Give me a heart that Hopes in you.  Teach me how to exit cleanly from my past and immediately reach out to you.  Grant me the power of your Spirit to live every moment of my life for your glory. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Photographs: Swim Channel Facebook

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