My Core Values

Note: This was originally intended to be a journal entry, hence the more intimate feel. But as I was writing, I felt Holy Spirit prompting me to post it on this blog. I’m not sure of all the reason (and I don’t need to be), but hopefully this will provide a valuable snap-shot into my inner life. Enjoy!

Last night at our Area Pastor’s Meeting, part of our time together was spent discussing a certain list of items from a pastor in Colorado. I don’t remember the whole statement, but one of the comments this pastor made was essentially “don’t apologize for being yourself.” It got me thinking – who am I? Who has God made me to be? What are my core values when it comes to relating with God?

Intimacy – I want to know God and be known by Him. I want to be a familiar face before the Throne. I want to talk to Him frequently. I want to love Him and be loved by Him – just sitting in His love. I want to know His heart not just His words. I want to worship.

Power of the Spirit – I want the power of the Holy Spirit to be evident in every area of my life. I want the character of Christ and I want the ministry of Christ. I believe the time is soon coming (and is maybe now here) where living in the miraculous wont be optional. I believe the time is coming where we will need God to miraculously multiply food simply for survival – this is already happening with Heidi Baker’s ministry in Mozambique. I believe that ministering in the power of the Spirit is essential Christianity. Empowered Evangelicals – empowered by Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel of the Kingom.

Kingdom of God – I really do believe that God is coming back (soon) to judge the earth. I really do believe that He is going to pour out wrath upon the enemy and all who follow him. I also believe that God will pour out mercy, grace and favor upon all who follow His Son Jesus. I believe that Jesus really is a King deserving our full allegiance and that His Kingdom has rules that must be followed – obedience isn’t optional.

Humility/Meekness – For whatever reason, God has made me a man who desires meekness and humility more than anything else. I want to think of others highly and to prefer them above myself. I don’t want to think of myself more highly than I ought. I don’t want to justify or defend myself to people – I want God to be my judge. I want to live before and audience of One – I want to live for His smile. I want to submit myself to God’s rule and to whoever He places in authority above me. I want to love, care for and serve people well.

Being Filled with the Spirit

As I read the Scriptures, so much of the Christian life comes down to one thing – following the Spirit. I believe it is a biblical imperative to be filled with the Spirit, powerless living being neither attractive, productive or pleasing to God. Jesus said it was for our good that He was going away so that He could send the Spirit. If we fail to receive and be empowered by the Spirit, I fear that we dishonor Jesus’ words and grieve the Spirit Himself. The following article is my attempt at processing the various means by which God fills us with His Holy Spirit. It is my prayer that this post will assist you in understanding the need and means by which we receive this precious Person into our lives.

Acts 2:33b says “[Jesus] has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out what you now see and hear.”

The first and primary way that one is filled with the Spirit is to receive it from the Father. Ultimately, it is God’s Sovereign choice wether or not to pour out the Spirit. That said, we must remember that God eagerly gives us the Holy Spirit when we ask Him (Luke 11:13). In truth, the Father’s willingness to give us the Spirit is the primary method by which one is filled with the Spirit. Every other instance listed below falls under the umbrella of God’s willingness.

The second method of filling that we should address is Jesus “pouring out” the Spirit upon His followers. The Scriptures are replete with this image. John the Baptizer says “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit,” Mark 1:8. The verse above from Acts states that Jesus poured out the Spirit and John 15:26 says that Jesus will send the Spirit to us from the Father. Here we see the mutual submission of the Godhead to one another.

We would be remiss if we did not consider the person of the Spirit in this process. The Spirit is given and sent, but Holy Spirit is also a person, with likes and dislikes and a will of His own. There are at least 20 instances in the Bible where “the Spirit of the LORD” comes upon someone. We can infer that the Spirit was sent by the Father for this purpose, but it is just as correct to think that the Holy Spirit, in Sovereign choice, came upon His servants of His own will and volition to fulfill a specific purpose.

The fourth method of filling I see in the Scriptures is through baptism. At Pentecost, when the multitudes are ready to respond, Peter instructs them to “repent and be baptized…and you will receive the Holy Spirit,” Acts 2:38. It is certainly the Biblical expectation of the New Testament that water baptism and Holy Spirit (or Power) baptism would happen at the same time. We know from Acts 19:1-7 that it is possible to be baptized for repentance and not receive the Spirit and power, but that was viewed as an abnormality to be quickly remedied rather than the norm.

In Acts 8, Philip the Evangelist is ministering in Samaria. A large number of people come to believe, but they did not receive the Spirit like the believers in Jerusalem. In an attempt to troubleshoot (notice that it is the expectation of Philip that when someone comes to faith they will experience the baptism of the Spirit and the activation of the gifts), Philip calls in the Apostles Peter and John. The Apostles prayed and placed their hands upon the believers and they received the Spirit immediately.

Moving quickly to Acts 10, Peter is commissioned to preach the Gospel to a Gentile named Cornelius. Peter begins to preach the Gospel and “while Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message,” Acts 10:44. We know that the preaching of the Word is powerful, living and active – it also appears that God can move through the Gospel message to baptize people with the Spirit.

The last method I would like to discuss is worship and prayer. When the Holy Spirit originally fell on the Apostles at Pentecost, they were worshipping and praying. It has been the experience of many believers, especially in the Vineyard Movement, that the Holy Spirit is especially active during times of worship.

It goes against the witness of Scripture to suggest that there is a fail-proof “formula” for how one becomes “filled with the Spirit.” As stated above, we must rely upon God’s goodness and His desire to give good gifts to His children. Those gifts come in a variety of ways, but they are ultimately His desire. It is a biblical imperative to “receive the Spirit” (John 20:22), so we must ask and keep on asking until we receive power from on high. And we must live lives that make us available to God and His desire to fill us – lives of personal and corporate worship and prayer, hearing and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Name of Jesus, receiving the baptism of the Spirit and the laying on of hands from our elders and leaders. And we must continually trust that it is God’s desire to fill us full to overflowing with His Spirit so that we can accomplish His purposes upon the Earth. Amen.

Time at Camp

I recently returned from an overnight stay at EWALU, the Bible Camp of my youth. Every so often I feel the need to return to EWALU: to reboot, reconnect and remember. I always leave that “place apart” feeling energized and grounded, ready to dive back into whatever I am doing.

This time was no different. I hiked trails, talked with God, revisited the “thin space” where I first encountered the Holy Spirit in power and immersed myself in reading. The rhythm of hike, read, write, eat works well with me. It was the reading and conversations I had that were especially meaningful to me this time.

First, I had a wonderful conversation with a Lutheran Pastor named Darrel Larson. This seasoned saint is in his 60s and has been pastoring longer than I’ve been alive. It was so good to listen to him teach and converse. I have a deep appreciation and affection for the Lutheran church – God entrusted them with many precious things. I think He wants to restore them as a revival movement as well, reforming them once again around the Truth of His Word.

Secondly, my reading included the book “Power Evangelism” by John Wimber, finishing “When Heaven Invades Earth” by Bill Johnson and an in depth study of the book of Acts. Three different books, three different authors, but all talking about the same Person doing the same thing – the Holy Spirit moving in power to bring many people to faith in Jesus.

Reading these books, it seems so apparent that we are to minister in the power of the Spirit at all times, but especially when we preach and evangelize. I must acknowledge that there are instances where the Gospel is preached without signs and wonders accompanying it. I must also acknowledge that when there were no signs and wonders present (Paul’s discourse in Athens for example) the preaching seemed to have little or no effect. I’m no scientist, and the Spirit is no lab rat, so establishing causation is impossible. However, there is definitely a high correlation between preaching with signs and wonders and conversions.

I was struck by the constant litany in Acts of the phrase “filled with the Spirit.” There are at least three generations of believers who were filled with the Spirit, the older generation passing down the anointing and blessing the younger generation with the freedom to go farther. My contemplations lately have been: how does one become filled with the Spirit? Are there multiple “fillings,” Peter was filled at least twice? If so, why is that necessary – do we leak? Where did the breakdown between generations occur? More importantly – can we get it back?

I will attempt to answer these questions in another post. I’ve got some hunting to do.

Reflections on Mark 12:24

“Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”

The word for “error” in the above passage is the Greek word “planao”.  According to my lexicon, planao is defined in the following ways:

  • To lead astray,
  • To deceive
  • To lead into error,
  • To sin
  • To fall away from the truth with the result of becoming a heretic

Jesus says it is planao (error,sin,heresy) to not know and live out the Scriptures. Jesus says it is equally planao (error,sin,heresy) to not know and live out the power of God. Those are strong words and cut to the core of the Church today.

We are well aware of our need for the Scriptures. They are the words of God, the foundation of our faith, useful for correction, encouragement and living in ways that please God.  To ignore them, or wander too far away from them, is to be led into error and sin, planao in Jesus’ words. Churches and people who do not preach, proclaim and live out the words of God as revealed in the Scriptures cannot claim to be His representatives in this world. We must hold fast to the Gospel as revealed by God Himself.

We are less aware of our need for God’s power, especially as it pertains to the proclamation of the Gospel. This is not an either/or option, it is both/and. We need the Scriptures and the power of God if we are going to honestly proclaim the same Gospel that Jesus did. The Gospel of Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament church was accompanied with signs and wonders. If the Gospel we preach is not accompanied by those same things, then we cannot claim to be God’s representatives in this world. We must hold fast to the Gospel as revealed by God Himself.

Self appointed “watch dog” groups that have no power but impeccable doctrine are as much in error as the people they criticize for their excesses. The neglect of either the Scriptures or the power or God leads to planao, sin/heresy. Groups that have only become and no Scriptural grounding become cults of excess. Groups that have only Scriptural knowledge but no knowledge of God’s power become Pharisees, to whom Jesus said,

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,yet you refuse to come tobe to have life.”

To be clear, my intent is not to criticize or berate a group or individual. My purpose is to awaken us to the need for both in-depth Scriptural knowledge  AND regular manifestations of God’s power if we are going to claim to be followers of Jesus. We must proclaim the message of Jesus the same way He did: with truth, authority and power.