Friday, June 27, 2014

Being a Servant

One of the things that I like about the writings of the Apostle Paul is that he is very practical. All of his letters have a practical side to them. Paul wanted his readers to apply theology to life. Nowhere does he do that better than in 2 Timothy. He tells Timothy to flee evil desires of youth and to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace (2 Tim 2:22).

We do well to listen to Paul’s advice to Timothy and run from the things he said were no good for us and run toward what would improve our lives. Paul goes on to clarify that impatience and the inability to listen to other people is something we need to leave behind as we pursue maturity. Being dogmatic and so self-assertive that we give our opinion whether or not anyone is interested is a sign of gross immaturity.

We are to pursue righteousness, which simply said is doing the right thing. It is integrity and character. Faith is the ability to trust God in every area of our life. Love is how we treat people, especially people who can do nothing for us. Finally, peace is the evidence of God’s presence in our life as we live in harmony with others.

This is the first of four servant songs given to us by the prophet Isaiah. It is a description of the Lord Jesus as God’s true servant.

Isaiah 42:1-17
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope."

In this passage Isaiah describes what Jesus would be like during his ministry. He didn’t have a loud, defiant voice, and he wasn’t brash or rude. Though he was the Son of God, the same one who spoke the worlds into existence, he didn’t snuff out those people who were barely hanging on in life. He didn’t strive with others or get into fights or arguments. He was quiet and gentle, yet powerful through his love and humility. In Jesus there is the quiet strength of one who seeks to conquer by love and not by strife. His message is of gentleness and humility. As we flee the sinful and immature desires of human nature and follow after noble things such as righteousness, faith, love and peace, we will be more servant like. Jesus is our model, and we are to follow in his steps.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Fatherhood was meant to be enjoyed. First, there is that infant stage when they are changing so fast, and it’s so much fun to watch them explore their world. Then the toddler years come where they are so funny. They say things so spontaneously that take us by surprise. Like the time our son Eric said, “Look, the rain is licking up our hop-scotch from the sidewalk.” Or what our little daughter said in response to a car commercial with the car flying through the air, “Oh, what a strong car.” During a conversation with our little son Ryan, we told him that Daddy had Indian blood, so that meant that he and his brother and sister had some Native American blood line. He was very puzzled and asked about mother; we replied that she didn’t have any. To which he asked, “So what are you, mother, a cowboy?”

You are constantly laughing and being taken back by what they say. Like the other day when my son-in-law was giving my daughter a hug and their four year-old Caitlin said, “Hey, let’s not do that now, especially since we are eating, and maybe when we are finished we can all join in.”

Then comes the time during childhood where they love to be with their dad. God was so good to me because I had a job where I could often take my kids with me for a few hours on most any day. Honestly, I loved taking them with me and never felt more proud than when they were in my company.

Fathers, God gives us these unique years to love, teach and inspire our kids, and because we do that, we get their admiration and respect for life. That is worth more than all the bonuses and financial incentives in the world.

One of my all-time favorite scenes in the Bible is the scene where the prodigal son comes home to his father after his wayward journey that has ended in abject failure. He has finally come to his senses and realizes that everything he went searching for was back home with his father. Before he could even arrive at his father’s house—his father came running to him, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). That day the son experienced his father’s forgiveness. The father’s acts of love are so profound, as he calls for the best robe to be put on him and to prepare the fattened calf for the celebration. Let me tell you that when you forgive and accept, your acts and words are also profound to your son or daughter.

When a child grows up in a home where there is acceptance and forgiveness, his or her self-esteem will be much higher. This is crucial because it contributes to the way they view themselves and of course has so much to do with the quality of the relationships they have--most importantly with their spouse and children. Fathers, our acceptance of our children will impact how they live the rest of their lives.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Day of Pentecost

After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the newly formed group of believers would have to carry on without him. There was nothing about them that distinguished them as competent and prepared for success. They were considered a cult and looked upon with ridicule. They didn't have their own building in which to meet. They lived on the verge of poverty and were small in number. One of their leaders had just betrayed Jesus and had been fraudulent with their money. The rest of the apostles were unproven. So what made the difference? How were they able to grow by leaps and bounds and see wonders and miracles? The remarkable turning point for the Early Church was the infilling of the Spirit that occurred on the Day of Pentecost.

While Jesus’ body still lay in the tomb, a group from the Sanhedrin made its way to a field ready to be harvested. They cut down the firstfruits of grain, standing sheaves that were pre-tied. The cut sheaves were taken back to the temple to be waved before the Lord the next day. The harvest was not to be partaken of until that offering of firstfruits was made.

It was no mere coincidence that Christ arose the very day of Firstfruits. However, on that day it was not in the temple, but in the tomb that the real firstfruits was waved before God. Until Jesus was raised from the dead as the firstfruits, none of us were able to partake of the fruits of resurrection.

Seven weeks after Firstfruits came Pentecost. The barley harvest was over, and a baked loaf of the harvest was offered to God. However, on that day, the Pentecost offering that God blessed was not in the temple but in the upper room. God poured out his Spirit and baptized 120 believers, initiating the outpouring of the Spirit as predicted by the Old Testament prophets and just as Jesus had said would happen.

This is Luke’s account of what happened that infamous day:

Acts 2:1-13When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

The day Jesus had promised them finally arrived in phenomenal form. Suddenly, they heard a sound like the blowing of a violent wind that filled the whole house. Perhaps this sounded like a hurricane. Certainly they were more than a little shocked by the sound of the wind, but there was more. They saw what seemed to be flames of fire that came to rest on each of them. There appeared be an actual fire in the air above their heads. There was one more visible and audible sign that would leave people perplexed and in awe.

There were things that were completely unique to the Day of Pentecost, such as:

·         The sound of the wind
·         The appearance of fire over them
·         Speaking in other tongues that were clearly understood by the listeners occurred only here (with exception of a few extraordinary contemporary accounts).

There were other things that were not unique to the Day of Pentecost, such as:

·         Speaking with other tongues as a result of being filled with the Spirit occurred elsewhere in Acts, even though the tongues are not recognized as a definite language by those listening.

·         In Acts, speaking with other tongues is never described as occurring before a person is filled with the Spirit.

·         Speaking in other tongues is not the only evidence of the Spirit-filled life, but there are five incidents that show us the baptism of the Holy Spirit, three of which the people are said to speak in other tongues.

Day of Pentecost         Filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues             Acts 2
Samaria                       Filled with the Spirit                                             Acts 8
Damascus                    Filled with the Spirit                                             Acts 9
Caesarea                     Filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues            Acts 10
Ephesus                      Filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues             Acts 19

The Pentecostal Church around the world still moves forward because of the infilling of the Spirit. The Day of Pentecost was the beginning. As Peter said in his sermon, that day is for all of us, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Making of a Rebel

How miserable it is to be around a rebel teenager. They rebel against almost everything and treat their parents so rudely. Their daily interactions are devoid of respect and kindness. The ugliness of their rebellious attitude generates an awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere. On the other hand, what a joy it is to be around a teenager with a submissive spirit. Their grace and respectful attitude generates an inner-beauty that creates an inviting atmosphere.

Let me show you a picture of both a rebel and a submissive person. Let’s begin by looking at King Saul. He was given a command from the Lord to execute complete judgment on the Amalekites and destroy everything. Yet when Saul carried out his mission, he spared Agag, the king, and the best of the sheep and the cattle. When confronted by Samuel, he rationalizes his actions by saying, “I brought back the king, and the men spared the best of the animals to sacrifice to the Lord” (1 Sam. 15:12-16).  Samuel says, “Stop! That’s enough!” Samuel has one question for Saul, “Why did you not obey the Lord?” Then he tells him what the Lord says about his actions:

1 Sam 15:22
"Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king."

Saul never got the message that God prefers obedience to sacrifice. More than likely Saul was raised with his rebel heart. We are all rebels, and unless we go through the process of learning by being taught how to submit to God, we will always be rebellious and, like Saul, rationalize our disobedience.

We have to start working with our children when they are infants and toddlers. Certainly we need to love them, but true love trains them to respect our authority. If we allow a spirit of rebellion and arrogance to grow until it makes them to be a miserable person, we are failing as parents. The making of a rebel happens when our children are very little. It happens when we let them get away with being disrespectful to us and other adults. It happens when we allow their pride and arrogance to run rampant—so much so that they become rude to others and we never interfere.

If you as a parent allow that spirit—you will make the teacher’s job at school unbearable because of your negligence. If you don’t arrest this stubborn, selfish spirit when they are a small child, you are making a miserable husband or wife for their future mate.

Now let’s look at a submissive heart. This is one of the few passages where Jesus spoke of himself. The passage shows us his submissive heart. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30).

This passage is an invitation for all of us to lay down our rebellious hearts and yoke ourselves with Christ and take up a submissive heart. The burden of a submissive heart is light, and the burden of a rebel is hard.