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Showing posts with the label #HolySpirit

The explosive power of God?

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Humans covet power. It’s why we regularly misinterpret what the scriptures have to say about it. Dynamis power /'di.na.mis, usually 'du'nə.mɪs 'paʊ(.ə)r/ n. The extra-mighty sort of power God possesses. [Dynamite power /'daɪ.nə.maɪt 'paʊ(.ə)r/] “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” So wrote poet Alexander Pope in his Essay on Criticism , and a lot of people stop there. They figure what Pope meant was be careful with knowledge. Knowledge is power, and knowledge is dangerous. Read the whole poem and you learn different. A little learning is a dang’rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. The Pierian Spring was a fountain in Macedonia dedicated to the Greek goddesses of wisdom and talent, the Muses. Drink from it, and you’re supposed to gain knowledge. Sip from it and you get half-truths. That’s what’s dangerous: A little learning, partial kn

Tongues. And how they develop prophecy.

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It’s definitely not one or the other. 1 Corinthians 14.1-5 Tongues are a controversial practice. Not just because far too many Christians believe God turned off the miracles and therefore has nothing to do with tongues, bible to the contrary. To be honest and blunt, tongues are easy to fake, and easy to abuse. Christians who pray in tongues have a bad habit, and therefore a reputation, of being undisciplined about it. Which was entirely the point of Paul and Sosthenes writing 1 Corinthians 14: They didn’t wanna forbid nor ban tongues, like certain overzealous Christians do, and in so doing squelch everything the Holy Spirit wants to achieve through ’em. They simply wanted the Christians of Corinth to police themselves. Stop letting your tongues-speakers run amok. Stop prioritizing tongues above unity, harmony, and especially prophecy. Best I stop summarizing and get to that chapter. 1 Corinthians 14.1-5 KWL 1 Pursue love. Be zealous for the supernatural. Most of al

Shekhinah: Everybody’s favorite non-biblical Hebrew word.

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It’s about how Christians wanna experience God’s glory. Shekhinah /sɛ.xi'nɑ, usually ʃɛ'kaɪ.nə/ n. The glory of God’s presence. 2. God’s presence. 3. God’s dwelling place. [Shekhinic /ʃɛ'kaɪ.nɪk/ adj. ] The Hebrew word šekhiná , which English-speakers tend to spell “shekhinah” or “shekinah,” isn’t found in the bible. No, really. It comes from the Mishna. Sanhedrin 6.5, Avot 3.2, 6 It refers to God’s presence. More specifically the glory of God’s presence—provided we can feel or sense or see any kind of presence. God’s invisible, y’know. But sometimes he makes his presence more visible than usual. Like when he allowed Moses to see his glory Ex 33.18 —from the back, anyway. Or when the Hebrews saw God’s glory in his temple, 2Ch 7.3 or when Stephen had a vision of it. Ac 7.55 None of these folks were talking about seeing God himself. The apostle John is entirely sure they didn’t see God himself. Jn 1.18 But they saw something , and what they saw was wh

Generational curses and fearful Christians.

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Christians are curse-proof. But some of us are convinced family curses still affect us. In the middle of the Ten Commandments, as he warned the Hebrews away from idolatry, the L ORD mentioned a little something about how children suffer consequences for their parents. Exodus 20.5-6 KWL 5 “Don’t bow down to them. Don’t serve them. For I’m Y HWH your God: I’m El-Qanná /‘Possessive God.’ I have children suffer consequences for their parents’ evil —and the grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—when they hate me. 6 But I show love to a thousand generations when they love me and observe my commands.” Elsewhere in Exodus , when the L ORD revealed his glory to Moses, he repeated this idea of forgiving a thousand generations, yet afflicting three or four generations. Exodus 34.6-7 KWL 6 The L ORD passed over Moses’s face and said, “Y HWH . Y HWH . God. Compassionate. Gracious. Slow to anger. Great in love and truth. 7 Lovingly guarding thousands, putting up with

When supernatural gifts will no longer be needed.

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Contrary to common myth, not gonna happen for a while yet. 1 Corinthians 13.7-13 I grew up among Christians who loved to use this passage of 1 Corinthians to justify their belief God turned off the miracles. He didn’t, but miracles weirded them out and messed with their End Times theories, so they decided it’d be easiest if he just did. So when Paul and Sosthenes wrote the following, they had their own spin on it. (Here it is, in what they figured was the authoritative King James Version. ) 1 Corinthians 13.8-10 KJV 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. “That which is perfect,” they insisted, meant the bible. The New Testament wasn’t complete in Paul’s day; John wouldn’t write Revelation for a few more

The love we oughta see in supernatural gifts.

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We do untold damage when love’s not part of this ministry. 1 Corinthians 13.4-8 When Christians write the about the bit from 1 Corinthians 13 which defines love, we almost universally take it out of context. Myself included. ’Tain’t necessarily a bad thing: We quote it when we’re defining love. What love is, as opposed to what it’s not—as opposed to what popular culture, and sometimes even Christian culture, claims it is. The apostles defined it properly, so we’re adjusting our concept of agápi /“charity” accordingly. But in context , the apostles defined it because they were correcting the Corinthians’ misperceptions about the supernatural. If you’re gonna strive for greater gifts, the only valid way to pursue them and do them is in love. If you’re not doing ’em in love, you’re doing ’em wrong. And if you’re not entirely certain what the apostles meant by this “love” concept, permit ’em to straighten you out a bit. 1 Corinthians 13.4-8 KWL 4 Love has patience. Lov

The supernatural without the Spirit’s fruit.

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Yeah, contrary to popular belief, bad Christians can work actual miracles. 1 Corinthians 13.1-3 If phony supernaturalism irritates you, you’re hardly alone. It annoys me too. Just because I believe in the supernatural, a lot of folks expect I’ll believe any stupid thing. Those who don’t believe in the supernatural at all, presume I believe in every single one of the outrageous behaviors we find in the loonier fringes of Pentecostalism. Those who do believe in the supernatural expect me to accept their appalling behavior as legitimate—and are very annoyed when I won’t. But I can’t. Jesus warned us there’d be frauds out there. He told us to keep our eyes open, look out for them, and judge whether they’re legit or not. And some of these self-described apostles, prophets, healers, and ministers are simply frauds. People always try to make counterfeits of something valuable. It’s our duty as Christians to test these would-be miracle workers, see whether there’s anything to them—and

Strive for greater supernatural gifts!

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’Cause the Holy Spirit wants us to be a wonder-working church. 1 Corinthians 12.28-31 Part of the reason the apostles brought up the subject of supernatural gifts was so Christians wouldn’t be ignorant of ’em. 1Co 12.1 There are all sorts of gifts, empowered by one and the same Holy Spirit, 1Co 12.4 distributed among Christians so they can contribute to Christianity’s unity. This being the case: Do we see all Christians stepping up to the different ministries these gifts can energize? Do we see all Christians practicing these supernatural gifts? Miracles breaking out everywhere, mighty acts of power convincing the world God is really among us, the weak and sick flocking to churches because they know God has the cure, the lost and confused seeking out Christians because they know God has answers? I wish . And I’m sure plenty of Christians also wish it were so. Not to mention Christ himself. But we don’t see it. What we see are naysayers and cessationists. People who reduc

One Spirit for the one body of Christ.

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So stop dividing the body for the sake of your particular gift! 1 Corinthians 12.4-27 The way pagans in the first century understood the supernatural, there were many different supernatural abilities —and each ability was produced by a different spirit. If you wanted healing power, you prayed to Apollo. For wisdom, Athena. For speaking in tongues, Dionysius. For mighty acts of power, Zeus. You get the idea. Different abilities require the intercession of different gods. Or lesser gods, little helper gods, personal gods, known as daimónia , from which we get our word “demon.” Nope, not real gods. Unclean spirits. Of course, when these gods did no good, as was usually the case, you do realize there were other gods. Apollo wasn’t the only Greco-Roman healing god. There was Asklipiós, Panákia, and Ygihía. And if the Greco-Roman gods didn’t work, there were always the Egyptian gods, the Persian gods, the Norse gods… Today’s pagans still think this way. First they try w

When the Spirit touches you… and you fall down.

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Yeah, God’s involved. No, it’s not from the bible. So? SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT /sleɪn ɪn ðə 'spɪr.ɪt/ vt. Fall down as a result (primary or secondary) of the Holy Spirit’s activity. [Slay in the Spirit /sleɪ ɪn ðə 'spɪr.ɪt/ vt. ] A lot of Christians believe if a practice isn’t found in the bible, we shouldn’t do it. Nope, we’re not at all consistent about this belief. Loads of churches and Christians have outside-the-bible practices. In the bible, churches met daily, not primarily Sunday mornings. In the bible, the worship songs are the psalms; where’d all these new compositions come from? In the bible, Christians prayed in tongues, but you’ll notice a number of churches have banned that practice. In the bible, women prophesied, and you’ll notice a lot of these same churches banned that too. I frequently read my bible on my computer or phone, or listen to it on my iPod—and you do realize electronics aren’t in the bible, right? Obviously if it’s banned in the bible—i

Some of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gifts.

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And how those who don’t believe in miracles, redefine them. 1 Corinthians 12.4-11 When the apostles Paul and Sosthenes corrected the church of Corinth regarding the supernatural —in particular about the gifts the Holy Spirit distributed to his church—the apostles listed a few of these gifts. Didn’t define ’em; just listed ’em. Nothing wrong with that, but the problem is cessationists , those Christians who don’t believe in the supernatural, have redefined these gifts so they’re no longer supernatural. Still gifts of the Holy Spirit, but now they’re the sort of “gifts” that gifted and talented people—those folks we tend to call “geniuses”—happen to have. You know, like the ability to remember everything you read. Or have perfect musical pitch. Or be able to do complex mathematical equations in your head. Or be really physically coordinated. In other words, natural gifts. Granted by God, of course, ’cause he’s the Creator. And thus the 1 Corinthians passages become all about

When God turns off the warm fuzzy feelings.

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Some of us are only following him for the euphoria. He wants us to follow him . As I wrote in my article about confusing our emotions with the Holy Spirit, there are a number of Christians who aren’t pursuing God so much as they’re pursuing endorphins. They want the emotional high. That rush is their primary motivation for pursuing God. Now, God’s got two typical responses for that sort of behavior: He puts up with it. It’s not really harming us right now, and he can use it to redirect us towards proper, healthy ways of following him. So he’s gonna work with it. He shuts it down. ’Cause it is harming us, or others; or it’s about to. ’Cause he’s trying to redirect us, but we’re either not listening, or we’re too easily distracted. For endorphin junkies, when God makes ’em go cold turkey, it’s devastating. They feel nothing . In comparison with before, they feel like God went away; that he’s no longer there; that his presence is gone; that “the heavens are brass” (an out-of

Getting drenched in the Holy Spirit.

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Spirit baptism is a controversial topic. ’Cause it involves power, and people either covet power, or fear it. Luke 3.16-17 KWL 16 In reply John told everyone, “Indeed I baptize you in water. And one stronger than me comes. I’m not able to loose his sandal strap. He’ll baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 The winnowing-shovel is in his hand to thoroughly clean his threshing-floor. He’ll gather together the grain in his silo. He’ll burn up the straw with endless fire.” Getting baptized , ritually washed, in water was not a new idea for John the Baptist’s listeners. Any time they wanted to be clean for worship, they baptized themselves and waited till sundown. John’s baptism, for those who were repentant of their sins, was a little different. But Jesus’s baptism would be way different. It involved the Holy Spirit. And fire. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his students to wait in Jerusalem for that baptism, Ac 1.4-5 and 10 days later this happened: Acts

Wanna feel the Holy Spirit? Crank up the bass.

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’Cause people don’t know the difference between spirit and emotion. That title—if you want people to feel the Spirit, crank up the bass—is a joke I regularly make to the folks in my church. ’Cause it’s true. If the sound guy were to take all the lower frequencies out of the sound mix during the worship music, I guarantee you we’d have people in the congregation mutter, “I don’t know what’s wrong, but I really couldn’t feel the Spirit today.” Whereas if we turned that puppy all the way up to 11, those same folks would tell everyone, “ Man the Spirit was moving this morning!” Bass, as any sound expert will tell you, makes people feel the music. Literally. Yeah, I put this on Twitter. The sound waves hit a frequency which physically vibrates your innards. Most of us are aware we hear bass, but aren’t always aware we feel it too. All we know is we feel something —and because music sparks emotions, often the bass will spark ’em too. So because people don’t know the difference

Sealed—not yet baptized—with the Holy Spirit.

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’Cause there’s a difference between the two, despite what non-charismatics claim. Ephesians 1.13-14 KWL 13 In Christ you heard the truthful word—the good news of your salvation! In Christ you believed; you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit! 14 He’s the down payment of our inheritance— releasing our trust fund—praising God’s glory. ’Member when you got saved? Maybe not; maybe it was a gradual process. Doesn’t matter. At some point in that process God decided to take up residence in your life. We call it indwelling. You got “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” as Paul put it. He’s in you. Right now. Whispering God’s will into you. Hope you’re listening. Now, non-charismatics claim when the Spirit gets into us like that, yeah it’s called indwelling, but it’s also called “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Lk 3.16, Ac 1.4-5 Those two events, they insist, are one and the same. ’Cause the Holy Spirit gets in you and on you, kinda like the water does in the baptism