The Empowerment Of Pentecost

The Feast of Pentecost was an annual celebration for Jewish people for a long time, with nothing really noteworthy happening. Until…

…on the Day of Pentecost that took place just 10 days after Jesus ascended into heaven, a new breed of Christian was unleashed on the world. Those followers of Jesus who were baptized in the Holy Spirit on that day begin living a lifestyle that we now refer to as Pentecostal. 

Most people were familiar with water baptism is an outward sign of an inward commitment. It’s not something that was new to Christianity: Greek philosophy teachers and Jewish rabbis baptized their followers. So did John the baptizer (or the Baptist). 

But John, as the forerunner of Jesus, promised that there would be something more—a baptism in the Holy Spirit that Jesus would bring. Jesus Himself said this baptism was so important that He didn’t want His followers to even attempt to begin to evangelize the world until they received this baptism (Luke 3:3, 16; 24:44-49; Acts 1:4-8). 

What is important about this Holy Spirit baptism? What are its origins? To answer these questions, we have to go back to the very beginning of Time itself. When God created humans, the Holy Spirit was breathed into us, giving us a living soul (Genesis 1:26, 2:7). This Spirit-breath set us apart from all other living creatures (Job 33:4, 32:8; Proverbs 20:27).

We were created to be intimately connected with God, but our sin severed that. Our hearts became sin-calloused and selfish and stone-hard toward God. 

The Cross of Jesus allowed us to be reconciled to God. By placing our faith in what Jesus did for us on the Cross, we could receive forgiveness of our sins. We were now saved from the penalty of our sins, but Jesus wanted more for us—He wanted us also to be saved to a new life that was as intimately connected to God’s heart as His life was. 

So Jesus told His followers to wait and pray for the promised baptism in the Holy Spirit. 

They prayed. And on that Day of Pentecost, they were indeed baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Actually, the word filled literally means “fulfilled”—the baptism in the Holy Spirit fulfilled what Jesus had promised. 

From that day forward, those who are baptized in the Holy Spirit are called Pentecostal people. I know there are some who would argue that was only for “back then,” but let me tell you from personal experience that there is no other way that I would try to live the Christian life than by being an unashamed Pentecostal! 

Jesus wants us to not only be water baptized to announce our faith in Him for forgiveness of sins, but also to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to empower us to live holy, extraordinary, fulfilling lives. If you haven’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit, you can be simply by asking God (Luke 11:13).

Join me next Sunday as we continue to explore what it means to live the Pentecostal lifestyle.

“Common Things”

You never, Heraclitus claimed,
step in the same stream twice.
Appearances may seem the same
(familiarity’s to blame,
or each things never-changing name),
but heed that Greek’s advice.
There’s more to life than meets the eye
or dances on the ear.
The moments of our lives flow by,
fraught with potential we might try;
yet, deaf to their sweet siren cry,
we neither see nor hear.
But hidden in each common thing
and every routine sound,
in leafless trees, on flashing wing,
the song that common sparrows sing,
and each arriving email’s “Ding!”
are wonders to be found.
Step through, then, into unseen worlds
where mysteries abound.
Eternal truths will be unfurled,
and nagging doubts behind you hurled
when your poor soul is slowly swirled,
turned upright and around
in common things profound. —T.M. Moore, from his book Bricks And Rungs

11 Quotes From “The Last Arrow”

Erwin McManus will get you fired up to make the most of the life God has given you! Check out my full review of The Last Arrow by clicking here. 

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy in this, of course, is that there is nothing really ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of this, but our souls already know it’s true, which is why we find ourselves tormented when we choose lives beneath our capacities and callings.” 

“Here is the painful reality: we will find ourselves defined by the average if we do not choose to defy the odds. … We can refuse to be average. We must refuse to be average. We must war against the temptation to settle for less. Average is always a safe choice, and it is the most dangerous choice we can make. Average protects us from the risk of failure, and it also separates us from futures of greatness.” 

“Most of us underestimate how much God actually wants to do in our lives and through our lives.” 

“I wonder how many victories are lost before the battle has even begun. I wonder how much more good God desires to usher into the world that has been thwarted by our own lack of ambition.” 

“If one day we are to have a conversation with God about the measure of our lives, I would rather have Him ask me why I tried to do too much than to have Him ask me why I settled for so little.” 

“Many of us keep longing for a new future while holding on to the past. We desperately want God to create something new for us, but we refused to let Him tear away all the old from us.” 

“The tragedy of a life that is never fully lived is not solely the loss of that one life. The tragedy is the endless number of lives that would have been forever changed if we had chosen to live differently.” 

“We do not help the world by choosing to be less or to do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.” 

“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen—make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and importance as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.” 

“The great tragedy would be to live your life waiting for that moment to come instead of living your life preparing for when that moment comes.” 

“If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer.” 

The Last Arrow (book review)

When I read an Erwin McManus book, I always feel like an arrow shot out of a bow: ready to launch into areas where I should be living. So it’s very appropriate that McManus’ newest book is entitled The Last Arrow! 

The premise of the book comes from a story in the Old Testament where King Jehoash has come to the prophet Elisha for help and counsel. Elisha tells Jehoash to strike the ground with his quiver of arrows, Jehoash does so, but only three times and then he stops. Elisha is furious with the king! In essence, Elisha is saying to Jehoash, “Why are you holding back? Why are you trying to store up resources for the next life? Now is the time: keep on striking until the very last arrow is spent!”

Erwin McManus writes, “My intention for this book is that you would never surrender, that you would never settle, that you would save nothing for the next life. May you die with your quivers empty. May you die with your hearts full. … This book is about not underestimating how much God intends for your life.” 

YES!!

In chapter after chapter, Pastor McManus encourages us to keep pressing forward, not letting our past holding us back, getting the right people around us, standing our ground, and living for a greater future. He shares examples from Scripture, his own life, and the lives of some extraordinary “last arrow” people he’s met along his journey. All in all, this book will fire you up! 

Near the last page of the book you will be cheering as McManus writes, “If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer”! 

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—Second Mile Christianity

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Second Mile Christianity

     To go the second mile means always do your duty, and a great deal more than your duty, in a spirit of loving devotion that does not even know you have done it. … The supreme difficulty is to go the second mile with God, because no one understands why you are being such a fool. The summing up of Our Lord’s teaching is that it is impossible to carry it out unless He has done a supernatural work in us. … 

     The interests of the Son of God and of the disciple are to be identical. How long it takes to manifest that identity depends on the private history of the disciple and his Lord. … 

     We do not need the grace of God to stand crises; human nature and pride will do it. We can buck up and face the music of a crisis magnificently, but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of the day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a saint, to go through poverty as a saint, to go through an ordinary, unobtrusive, ignored existence as a saint, unnoted and unnoticeable. The “show business,” which is so incorporated into our view of Christian work today, has caused us to drift far from Our Lord’s conception of discipleship. It is instilled in us to think that we have to do exceptional things for God; we have not. We have to be exceptional in ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, surrounded by sordid sinners. That is not learned in five minutes. 

From So Send I You

Jesus calls His disciples to go the second mile. Others won’t understand us, and few (if any) people will applaud us for doing so.

Like a novice runner, maybe we can’t go the whole second mile the first time out. Maybe not even the second or third time. But can we go a bit further the second time than we did the first? And a bit further the third time than we did the second? That’s what discipleship is all about: Letting Jesus help us go a bit further each time.

If you stick with it, soon you will be going the second mile and not even realize it. Other may not realize it either, but God always sees when we do, and He is pleased!

10 Quotes From “Shaken”

shakenTim Tebow explores what happens when your nice, neat world is shaken by the unexpected. It’s a phenomenally encouraging book! Check out my book review by clicking here. Then enjoy these quotes from Shaken.

“Sure, God loves the world, but He also loves each one of us individually. With billions of people on the planet, I know it can be hard to comprehend His love for us personally. God is infinite and focuses all of His love on you and me. He can’t spread Himself too thin. He cannot exhaust Himself. He cannot overextend Himself. And so every single person on the planet is the object of His love.”

“God can do a lot with what we think is a little. He can take something that can be described as ‘insignificant’ or ‘not enough’ or ‘small’ or ‘meaningless’ and use it to perform a miracle.”

“There will always be people in your life who will underestimate your potential, saying that you’ll never reach your dream or make that goal, or try to hold you back in some way. … Here’s the good news. What God knows about us is more important than what others think.”

“Being normal is safe. And easy. It doesn’t require much work or effort or change on our part. But it always leads to mediocrity. When we strive to be just like everyone else, we never have a chance to be special. When you start to embrace and even celebrate how special and different God made you, you can begin to do extraordinary things. You can begin to see yourself through His eyes. You can begin to live in the uniqueness with which you were created. You can be motivated and inspired to go against the grain. What does that mean? When everyone around you is picking on someone, stand up for that person. When everyone around you is using foul language, say kind things. When you see injustice and everyone else turns a blind eye, try to make it right.”

“Don’t get beat down by the stares, whispers, or obnoxious opinions of others who points out how different you are, look, or act. They don’t know God’s plan for your life. They don’t know how God can use what they may view as a weakness. If you focus on how much you hate those scars or those burns, you might missed the opportunity to encourage or inspire someone else who is going through a similar journey. … When you begin to accept how God purposely created you, you can begin to appreciate your uniqueness and allow Him to use those gifts.”

“While self-confidence is important and we should believe we can achieve great things, there must be a balance. We must be proud of our accomplishments without letting them define us.”

“When is the last time you did something different? Something beyond your comfort zone? Something that wasn’t familiar but could do a world of good in the life of another? When you stay put in your comfort zone, you don’t grow. You don’t stretch. You’re not challenged. You stay the same.”

“The stand you take may not be the biggest deal to the entire world, but it can be a big deal for one person. … A stand doesn’t always mean doing something radical. Sometimes God will use something you’ve always done in a way that’s bigger than you can imagine. Sometimes He’ll use something He puts on your heart, or maybe He’ll use your convictions, your search for the truth, your desire to do the right thing for a greater purpose.”

“We don’t have to feel led into full-time ministry before we can help the homeless or share a message of hope to someone who may need it. The only qualification necessary is willingness. I know not everyone has the opportunity to visit hospitals or prisons or make wishes come true. But there is always something you can do, even when you’re in a busy season in life. Give someone a hug. Send a text with an inspiring quote. Mail someone a heartfelt card. Donate blood. Tell someone how much you appreciate him or her. If we open our eyes, each day presents us with opportunities to do something kind or nice for someone else.”

“Don’t limit what God can do based on how you limit yourself. Be you, and let God be God.”

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading & watching from today…

[VIDEO] John Maxwell gives us a good reminder of what mercy is.

“There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine.’ But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. ‘In the image of God created He them.’ Thus, by a paradox, this carnival of sexuality leads us out beyond our sexes.” —C.S. Lewis

“The highest kind of liberality is, to redeem captives, to save them from the hands of their enemies, to snatch men from death, and, most of all, women from shame, to restore children to their parents, parents to their children, and to give back a citizen to his country.” —Ambrose

John Piper says, “We are supposed to let our light shine before others that they give glory to our Father. But in my experience shining with supernatural, divine light from another world is the very essence of non-regular.” Read the rest of his post: I Do Not Aspire To Be A “Regular Guy.”

It nauseates me when I think that my tax dollars are funding this sort of irresponsible, atrocious behavior at Planned Parenthood! Read more about the latest lawsuit against Planned Parenthood.

Praying for the peace of Israel in light of the newest Hamas attacks.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Research into the lifespans of biblical people in Did Adam Really Live 930 Years?

%d bloggers like this: