Holy Fire (book review)

Holy FireI believe the subtitle of R.T. Kendall’s book Holy Fire is the most apt description of this work: A Balanced, Biblical Look at the Holy Spirit’s Work in Our Lives. Truly this book is both biblical and balanced.

“I am writing this book (1) to introduce the Holy Spirit as if you did not know very much about Him, (2) to show the inconsistency of the teaching of some evangelicals, but (3) also to warn you of strange fire that is about,” says Dr. Kendall.

It seems lately there is a great deal of UNbalance when discussing the Holy Spirit, and much “theology” being preached which doesn’t have a firm biblical foundation. Some want to emphasize the Spirit’s role so much that they almost exclude God the Father and God the Son. Others want to so downplay the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today that they have almost become binitarians. Kendall stated, “The Holy Spirit does not belong to you. Are you Charismatic? He is bigger than your signs and wonders event. Are you Reformed? He will not be limited by your theology.”

Sticking close to the words of Scripture, R.T. Kendall walks us through the various roles of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He brings in the insights of other notable thinkers from Martin Luther, to John Calvin, to Jonathan Edwards, to George Whitefield, and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Even for someone like me who grew up in the Pentecostal tradition, I learned so much from this book!

Holy Fire is not written in a scholarly tone, but in a conversational style that made me feel I was talking with R.T. Kendall. This allowed me to drink in what Rev. Kendall was saying, process it, compare it with Scripture, and reach my own conclusions.

An excellent book that is very timely for the Christian era in which we currently live. Whether your background is Pentecostal or Reformed, there is so much to be learned from Holy Fire.

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading this weekend:

“It is bad to pursue something good negligently; it is worse to expend many labors on an empty thing.” —Hugh of St. Victor

A ground-breaking scientist of the 16th and 17th centuries who was (gasp!) a Christian: William Harvey.

Could the IRS do anything to make itself more unpopular?” Yep! Read more in New IRS Revelations.

“In the worst temptations nothing can help us but faith that God’s Son has put on flesh, is bone, sits at the right hand of the Father, and prays for us. There is no mightier comfort.” —Martin Luther

“Most of us are like the disciples. We see one miracle, and we are satisfied to talk about it for the rest of our lives. Yet, if we really knew God and let Him be God to us, we would ask Him for so much more.” —David Wilkerson

Great (not!): States Face Overwhelming Reality Of Obamacare.

Gratitude is a “chosen attitude.” Read more in Dr. Tim Elmore’s post The Inverse Relationship Between Gratitude And Entitlement.

Links & Quotes

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Some great reading I found this weekend.

“God’s work on this earth languishes when God’s people give up their ministries of prayer and supplication.” —A.W. Tozer

Very thoughtful: Why We Should Say “Yes” To A Culture Of Marriage.

Hmmm … Teen Pregnancy Rates Drop When Planned Parenthood Locations Close.

An informative article about the Holy Spirit: Jesus’ Closest Companion.

“Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes.” —Martin Luther

It becomes those to be generous who are the children of a gracious God.” —Charles Spurgeon

Debunking 7 Myths About Marijuana.

This is so cool! Laser surgery conducted on twins girls while they were still in the womb.

Where is the outrage in the mainstream media?! Pakistani married couple sentenced to death for their “anti-Islam” texts.

Links & Quotes

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Some great reading from today.

“All of the advertising we can do will never equal the interest and participation in the things of God resulting from the gracious answers to the prayers of faith generated by the Holy Spirit.” —A.W. Tozer

“The state of the times extremely requires a fullness of the divine Spirit in ministers, and we ought to give ourselves no rest till we have obtained it. And in order to [do] this, I should think ministers, above all persons, ought to be much in secret prayer and fasting, and also much in praying and fasting one with another. It seems to me it would be becoming the circumstances of the present day, if ministers in a neighborhood would often meet together and spend days in fasting and fervent prayer among themselves, earnestly seeking for those extraordinary supplies of divine grace from heaven, that we need at this day.” —Jonathan Edwards

Why is the media not in an uproar over this?! Pakistani Girls Forced to Renounce Christianity And Marry Muslims

“There is a bond: He takes it and crosses it all out and hands it back to you, and says, ‘There is a full discharge, I have blotted it all out.’ So does the Lord deal with penitents. He has a book in which all your debts are written; but with the blood of Christ He crosses out the handwriting of ordinances which is there written against you. The bond is destroyed, and He will not demand payment for it again. The devil will sometimes insinuate to the contrary, as he did to Martin Luther. ‘Bring me the catalogue of my sins,’ said Luther; and he brought a scroll black and long. ‘Is that all?’ said Luther. ‘No,’ said the devil; and he brought yet another. ‘And now,’ said the heroic saint of God, ‘write at the foot of the scroll: “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin.”’ That is a full discharge.” —Charles Spurgeon

Funny, but instructional, from Ken Davis: Five Super Powers Of Effective Leaders!

Sola Scriptura

Of all the other sola statements that came out of the Reformation, sola scriptura has to be one of the most foundational. Without a firm understanding of the truthfulness of God’s Word, all other doctrinal statements are without authority. Sola scriptura means that we use the Bible as our authoritative guide for everything in our lives.

Jesus confronted the religious leaders for their misuse and abuse of Scripture. The Sadducees had a tendency to ignore the parts of Scripture which didn’t fit their “theology.” The Pharisees, on the other hand, would over-exaggerate some Scriptures which would leave other passages dwarfed or forgotten.

In Matthew 23, Jesus took on both of these incorrect approaches. What I love is that Jesus didn’t share His opinion … He didn’t argue with them … He didn’t try to convince them to accept His viewpoint. Jesus just took them back to Scripture.

  • You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God (23:29).
  • Have you not read what God said to you (23:31).
  • David, speaking by the Spirt… says(23:43).

When Jesus said, “You are in error,” the verb tense is the passive voice. This means it was something done to them, not something they did. These religious leaders were not purposely straying from Scripture, but by listening to men instead of God they allowed themselves to be lead astray.

That’s why this insight from Luke is so powerful:

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

This is great counsel for all of us. We should all listen to pastors and teachers, or read authors, through the filter of Scripture. We need to make sure we aren’t passively straying, and we do this by examining the Scripture.

I hope you can join me next week as we continue our look at the five solas of the Reformation.

Sola

On October 31, 1517, a sea-change in world history was begun. On that day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church, challenging the traditions of organized religion which he believed had strayed far from the instructions in the Bible.

The Reformation had been launched.

I truly believe that we all must be students of history, partly because all of his story is His Story. When we study history, we can see how God is working out His Story.

Second, we also need to know our history because as George Santayana rightly said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

A third reason to (re)learn the thoughts brought out during the Reformation is for doctrinal strength. It’s important to know not only what why believe but why we believe it. And there are some valuable doctrinal truths in the history of the Reformation.

Finally, I believe an important part of learning is unlearning. Sometimes we accept something just because it’s been handed down to us. That is in large part what Luther and other reformers were challenging, and calling us to unlearn tradition and relearn what the Bible has to say.

So beginning this Sunday, October 7, we will be walking through the five Sola doctrinal statements the reformers taught. I am really looking forward to relearning and unlearning, and just outright learning the biblical truths of sola scriptura, sola Deo gloria, sola fide, sola gratia, and sola Christo.

I hope you can join me at Calvary Assembly of God.

4 Myths About Your Temper

This morning I shared with my congregation—in part one of our Ticked Off! series—three myths about anger. I want to add a fourth here…

1.  Anger is a sin. 

God is angry numerous times; in fact, the Old Testament alone has hundreds of verses that mention God’s anger. In the New Testament, Ephesians 4:26 says, “…in your anger do not sin….” It doesn’t say, “don’t get angry,” but “when you’re angry, don’t sin.”

2.  Anger is always destructive. 

Some great advances have been brought about by people who got angry. For instance, Martin Luther, the father of the reformation, wrote, “When I am angry I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations gone.”

3.  Anger doesn’t affect me.

Anger affects you physically. In one medical study researchers found that people who had strokes were more likely to have experienced anger in the two hours prior to having their stroke. It also affects your relationships. After you blow up, people close to you are injured and began to distance themselves from you.

4.  I can manage my anger.

Anger has a tendency to completely seize you, making it next to impossible to manage the furnace of emotions that is raging inside you. You cannot manage your anger! Instead, you need God’s help.

But more on that tomorrow…

7 Quotes From “Dreaming In 3D”

It was hard to narrow down the list to just these quotes, but these seven quotes from Dreaming In 3D by Doug Clay will give you a good feel for this empowering book. You can read my complete review by clicking here.

Unless otherwise noted, the quotes are from Doug Clay:

“The poorest of all men is not the one without a nickel to his name. He is the fellow without a dream.… [He is like] a great ship made for the mighty ocean but trying to navigate in a millpond.” —Kenneth Hildebrand

“For me, a healthy view of God’s dream and of becoming His masterpiece begins by avoiding comparison—in fact, carefully defining who I’m not. I can certainly learn by observing the talents and failures of others, but God didn’t call me to be a carbon copy of them. He created me to be an original edition. If I spend my time comparing my status to others and checking where I am on the acceptability scale, my focus is entirely on me, not on God and His purposes. …Most of the time, comparison produces either pride (if I think I’m doing better than others) or discouragement (if I’m not doing as well). In other words, comparison kills.”

“The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but… all works are measured before God by faith alone. …Indeed, the menial housework of a manservant or maidservant is often more acceptable to God than all the fasting and other works of a monk or priest, because the monk or priest lacks faith.” —Martin Luther

“People matter. Christ didn’t die for a cause; He died for people. The focus of a God-given dream is never about the size of an organization, the wealth we earn, or the fame we gain from success. It’s touching people’s lives.”

“What a man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” —Victor Frankl

“In the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love each other and work to accomplish Their unified purposes. God wants us, His Body, to work together to fulfill the dreams He puts on our hearts.”

“No one is outside of God’s incredible dream. Without Jesus, we’re just playing games to impress and control. But when He infuses our lives with love and purpose, we become His partners in the great adventure.”

A Spiritual Reflex

I love Martin Luther’s quote —

“I first lay down these two propositions concerning spiritual liberty and servitude. A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone.”

Yesterday we had our annual business meeting — although it was really our annual celebration. The one thing that stood out to me about 2011 is how much serving Calvary Assembly of God did in Cedar Springs. We are servants to everyone!

We picked up trash, put on carnivals, cleaned the Cedar Creek, helped our neighbors, worked with other community organizations, and presented a living nativity. We answered the call to serve whenever and however it came to us. We served individuals, our city governments, our ministerial association, and other churches and non-profit organizations.

Doctors routinely check our patellar reflex, where they tap our leg just below the knee cap and watch the involuntarily response of our leg. This reflex helps maintain posture and balance, allowing us to keep our balance with little effort or conscious thought.

I want my and Calvary Assembly of God’s spiritual patellar reflex in 2012 to be servanthood. When anyone asks for help, our involuntary response should be service. This is the best way to keep our posture and balance as servants of Jesus Christ and servants of our Cedar Springs neighbors.

This is why so many people around here say, “I My Church!” Come join us in serving in 2012.

Faith Is Always Doing

The Apostle James said it this way —

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

And I love Martin Luther’s commentary on this —

Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.”

A question for us to ponder: Can people see my faith by what I am doing?

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