Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Holy Spirit, Part 2

Listen to the message

The Holy Spirit: God at work in the world.

The Holy Spirit is able to think, speak, act—just as people do. But even greater than a person, the Holy Spirit is the dynamic presence of God Himself.


1. Draws us to Christ

God, because of His grace and through the Holy Spirit, brings us closer to Him, even when we do not know about Him. As God changes our hearts and moves in our lives, we are drawn to Him, so that we may know Him.

2. Causes us to be “born again” and gives us eternal life

Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” –John 3:5-6

The Holy Spirit creates our new spiritual life, and we can be confident in this life. By the Spirit, we are able to know with certainty that we belong to Christ.

3. Creates a family likeness

As we behold Christ, we are transformed into the image of Christ. We live “from the inside out.” The same Holy Spirit is in all of us.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. -2 Corinthians 3:17-19

4. Empowers us to share our faith

The only physical voice that Jesus has to speak to people is YOUR voice.“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…to the ends of the earth.” –Acts 1:8

5. Gives us spiritual gifts

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! –Galatians 5:22-23

6. Fills us with the love of God

We know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. –Romans 5:5

Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. -Romans 8:39

6. Creates unity among believersMake every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. –Ephesians 4:3

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Independence Day

As we celebrate Independence Day on Friday I think it’s helpful to take a look at what we are celebrating, why we celebrate it, and where God fits in all this.

If your family is anything like mine, you will run in the local 5K race, rush home to get the kids in the neighborhood tricycle parade, have the in-laws for some BBQ, go swimming, hang out until it gets dark, and sit with our dog during the fireworks trying to convince her that the world is not coming to an end. Not much in there to reflect on why we get the day off.

I love history. Especially early American history. The passion of the people for independence and freedom is inspiring:
  • I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! -Patrick Henry
  • I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country. -Nathan Hale
  • We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately. -Benjamin Franklin
  • It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible. -George Washington
There seems to be a little difference between independence and freedom. Independence means that, for better or worse, you get to make the rules. The mistakes you get to live with are generally your own. Pre-Independence, the problem was “taxation without representation”. A few hundred years later, we still have taxes: gas taxes, income taxes, estate taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, etc. but instead of a king in London making the rules, a majority of citizens have decided that such taxes our best for our people. We know that independence isn’t always perfect, but it sure beats the alternative.

Freedom is a little different. Someone can be independent, but not free. The young adult in her early 20s may live by herself and be independent of her parents, but she is not necessarily free. She probably has some sort of debt, a boss, and a landlord. As a country, we may make our own rules, but because of nuclear weapons, disease, oil, etc., I’m not convinced we are totally free.

There is another sort of independence and freedom that matters ultimately and it is another sort altogether. It isn’t represented by a flag, but by a cross and a cup. The flag represents what allows us to worship what is represented by the cross and the cup, but at the end of the day the flag doesn’t offer the things that matter most: forgiveness and salvation.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Text: 2G2BT

Listen Here

The Bible: 2 parts—Old Testament and New Testament


Old Testament: old covenant—story of ancient Israel
New Testament: new covenant—story of ancient Church

The Bible: Amazing and Complex!

  • Spans over 1500 years
  • Written by over 40 people who didn’t know each other
  • 400 years of “nothing” between OT and NT, but the message of the Bible is maintained

Old Testament: Events Pointing to Jesus

1) Chronological story of events
2) Authorial commentaries on events

“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. –Malachi 3:1

New Testament: Breaking the Silence
Promise of Jesus spoken to Mary
The angel told Mary, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus.” -Luke 1:31
And he will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end! -Luke 1:33

Prophecy of Jesus spoken by John the Baptist
John replied, “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’” –John 1:23
John saw Jesus…and said, “Behold! There is the Lamb of God!” –John 1:36

Understanding the Bible brings confidence in God’s promises

God was faithful to his promises in the Old Testament. We can live each day trusting that God will be faithful to fulfill the promises that he has made in the New Testament. With this confidence, we can be faithful to the instructions and the promises of Jesus.

The Bible: Redemption Story

The message of the Bible holds together throughout history and writings. The message is of our redemption. God became one of His own to win our affections, and God will come again to take away all sin, sorrow, sickness, and death.

Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven. –Psalm 119:89

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I was thinking about forgiveness recently. It is not likely that we are going to change other people. All we can really do is change our reaction to those people. Perhaps winning an intellectual argument becomes less important than letting go of feelings like anger and resentment. True joy and contentment do not come from other people. One person who is surrounded by people who love them can be totally lonely and unhappy. Another person who is physically alone can be fully content in life.

Forgiveness seems to be the issue. There are some things forgiveness is not. Forgiveness does not mean that we let people walk all over us. Forgiveness is not for the weak; it is for the strong. Forgiveness doesn't mean that we enable self-destructive behaviors. Sometimes letting people off the hook is the worst thing we can do for them and for us. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. That is usually impossible and often not even very wise. Forgiveness is not conditional. True forgiveness isn't, "I'll forgive you if..." That sounds more like “for-earn-ness.” And, forgiveness does not mean that the relationship is fully restored or that it even continues. Forgiveness may or may not be a gift that the offending party embraces. Whether the forgiveness is accepted or not is generally out of the forgiver's control.

Forgiveness is God's gift to us -- the forgiver. It goes something like this: “You have offended me and / or you have hurt me. But, because I care about you and I care about me, I forgive you. I'm not going to let somebody else's mistake define who I am in the present or the future. Neither of us can change the past, but I / we can prepare for a better future.”

One more thing. Forgiveness is generally a process as opposed to a one-time event. Like most other wounds, emotional / relational healing takes time. I tell people that one of the most important choices that we make in life is this: Do we remember and resent or will we forgive and live?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Quotes on Humor

Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it. -Bill Cosby

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road. -Henry Ward Beecher

Humor is a rubber sword - it allows you to make a point without drawing blood. -Mary Hirsch

The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and think for ten minutes. -William Davis

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Trek to the Top

I recieved this picture of Mayor Fahey and me today. The was from The Water's Edge's third place showing at the Trek up the Tower in February. The climb up the First National Building is easily the most painful and grueling 6 minutes of the year.

Monday, June 2, 2008


We started a new sermon series yesterday. Listen to yesterday's message here.

The Bible—an urgent text message

1) From God, someone who knows you because He created you
2) Always relevant, because it’s full of timeless truths and instructions

Just read it!

It’s not enough to hear someone else talk about it. You owe it to yourself to read it for yourself.

Incorporate the Word into your daily thoughts

Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. -Psalm 119:97

Wisdom: being able to anticipate what needs to happen in light of what might happen

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. -Psalm 119:98

Insight: ability to relate unrelated things and to notice things that other people miss

Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws. -Psalm 119:99

Obedience to God brings wisdom and insight

“To understand why, submit and apply”—to understand why God asks you to do something, do it.

I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. -Psalm 119:100

Decisions you make are shaped by what you know the Bible says
I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word. -Psalm 119:101

God personally teaches and communicates through His word

I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. -Psalm 119:102

How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.
-Psalm 119:103

Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. -Psalm 119:104

God knows the circumstances of your life and directs you accordingly

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. -Psalm 119:105

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Learning to Ride a Bike

One of my favorite quotes is from T.S. Eliot: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” If you have read my scribblings for any period of time, you know that Soren Kierkegaard is one of my favorite writers. He writes: “To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.”

God has something to say on the subject as well. Three times in Joshua 1:6-9, God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Repetition is something God uses for emphasis. God tells Joshua to be courageous because God has a picture for Joshua’s life that is better than the life that Joshua is currently experiencing. And God wants Joshua to bring a bunch of people along with him to share this life of abundance.

Last Monday, my seven-year-old son, Benjamin and I decided to go ride our bikes. We were quite the odd couple. I had my Giant Triathlon bike and he had his little Schwinn with training wheels. He has never been interesting much in bicycling. But I asked him at the end of our little ride: Do you want to take off the training wheels? Much to my surprise he said, “Sure.”

We went across the street to the swimming pool and I started pushing him in the parking lot. At first I knew there was no way this was going to work. But he got better fast. I let him go a little bit at a time. Within minutes he was tearing around the parking lot on his own. He loves riding his little bike. He wouldn’t have experiencing this joy unless he risked falling.

One more thing. God told Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For I’m with you wherever you go.” I was there with Benjamin, doing my best to make sure he succeeded and didn’t fall. I love him. It is the same with God and us. He is with us to prevent us from falling and to help us be successful.
Lessons discovered from Benjamin learning how to ride his bike:

1. Rewards in life come because risks are taken. Get on the bike.
2. Risks don’t have to be foolish. Consider using training wheels for a while.
3. Courage and risk isn’t a one-time choice. It is a lifestyle. It takes more than a day to learn to ride a bike.
4. Know that God is with you. You have somebody a whole lot better than a 38 year old pastor keeping you upright while you learn to pedal or do whatever else it is you are trying to do.