Holy Spirit’s Marvelous Ways

[In my January 1, 2015 post, I christened this the “Year of Learning” here on the blog. Each post, I’ll aim to share something recently discovered (or re-discovered) in the hope that you might add my learning to your own discoveries and make double-moves forward and upward this year!]

One strand of the past few years has been a desire and effort to increase my familiarity with the Holy Spirit. Taken wrong, that sentence could suggest that I’m doing a report on Him as subject. I know He wants different treatment than that! He wants intimate weaving of His life with mine, a mingling of deep with deep. Toward that end, there is much for this fellow to learn. Some of it comes through means far removed from traditional study; some of it involves books.

flame of loveFrom the realm of books, I recently finished a most enjoyable volume on the Holy Spirit. Clark Pinnock was a Canadian theologian and professor, who passed away in 2010, at the age of 73. I never met him, but from a distance, I’ve always loved his gracious spirit and pressing mind. Pinnock often took criticism for views that bordered on unorthodox, but he was always measured and loving in the questions that drove him and in his responses to such critique. I alluded to him back in a post last year as well.

“Flame of Love” is the book I recently completed. In one section, Pinnock gathered from other authors a summary of metaphors from Hildegard of Bingen, born in the 11th century. This list features some of the stream of thought that used to help Hildegard consider the role of the Holy Spirit.

“In a profusion of images, Hildegard of Bingen depicts Spirit in marvelous ways: as the life of creatures, as a burning fire that sparks, ignites, inflames and kindles our hearts; as a guide in the fog, a balm for wounds, a shining serenity and an overflowing fountain that spreads to all sides. Spirit is life, movement, color, radiance and a stillness that restores, bringing withered sticks and souls alive with the sap of life. The Spirit purifies, absolves, strengthens, heals, gathers the perplexed, seeks the lost, pours the juice of contrition into hardened hearts and plays music in the soul, melodies of praise and joy. The Spirit awakens mighty hope, blowing winds of renewal everywhere in creation.”

Who doesn’t need some of that?!

Surely every human being can find a phrase within that paragraph that stirs something within. Pinnock points out that this universality is one of the most wondrous things about the Spirit. Whereas the New Testament image of Jesus locks our focus — appropriately — on a specific man with a specific body in a specific time and a specific place, the Holy Spirit is described in Scripture in ways that unlock that specificity. His efforts are around-the-world and around-the-clock to bring redemption and renewal to all of Creation’s faces and facets. He is not far off from where you are this moment. He is incapable of being far off, and he is incapable of being uninvolved.

He is with you, and he is for you.

As God breathed His Spirit into dust-Adam and brought about entirely new dimensions of life, so He is eager to breathe into His people today. Seek Him, my friends. There is fresh breath for you.

 

Six-Pack (67)

Welcome to the Six-Pack!

My apologies for missing last week — I heard no rumblings of revolution, so I think we’re all right. Back at it with the six worth-sharing pieces from recent days — about ministry or faith or who-knows-what!

If a half-dozen feels daunting, start with the *Picks of the Week*, and move out.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) We Don’t Need Another Hero (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Sean Palmer takes issue with the relatively recent fascination everyone has with their “stories” — one particular issue. Bang on!

2)  What Cessationists Really Think About the Supernatural
Moving from what I describe as a Cessationist mentality into a life increasingly intrigued by the Holy Spirit, I was curious to see what Charisma Magazine would have to say in an article with that title.

3)  Clark Pinnock: Postmodern Pioneer
One of my favourite theologians was a Canadian man named Clark Pinnock. Capable of ruffling feathers and stirring pots while remaining absolutely humble and gracious, he passed away in 2010. This article of reflection back on his life and contributions was touching to me.

4)  Fundamental Greatness: The Oral History of Tim Duncan
I’ve been an ardent Tim Duncan fan since he entered the NBA many moons ago. This collection of quotes and comments is a fascinating chronicling of the “Big Fundamental’s” storied career.

5)  Six Subtle Things Highly Productive People Do Everyday (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
I like to think I’m productive; I like do dream how much more productive I could be. This piece from Business Insider has some valuable tips and reminders to get you closer to whatever productivity goals you’ve got set.

6) How One ADD Writer Focuses and Cranks Out Drafts
Jessi Stanley shares her approach for how to stop thinking and how to “get at it”.

May your week ahead be filled with life, as you seek the One from whom it flows!

leaveacommentYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Which link above was today’s best-of-the-best?
  • Why that one?

Direct others to the best of the bunch with a quick comment.

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Six-Pack (65)

Welcome to the Six-Pack, the Victoria Day Long Weekend edition for those of you celebrating in Canada.

As you’ve come to expect, the six links below feature the best online offerings I have recently read, related to ministry or faith, with just enough space left for who-knows-what!

If a half-dozen feels daunting, start with the *Picks of the Week*, and move out.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) In Prison With Ann Voskamp
Richard Beck confesses to getting a new perspective in a Texas prison.

2)  Q&R: A Nasty Piece About You (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Regardless of what you think of Brian McLaren, you’ll be inspired by this response that he gave to one of his critics. Classy and gracious.

3)  Six Unexpected Faith Conversations in Pop Culture
Relevant Magazine has put together this short piece highlighting popular figures who have recently shared thoughts on faith. Hardly profound, but interesting all the same.

4)  How to Stay in One Church for 27 Years
If you’re a pastor seeking advice on longevity, Ronnie Floyd is likely worth listening to.

5)  Toward Recovering Baptism (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
I was blessed by some recent visits with my friend Kirk at the Pepperdine Lectures. Here, he recounts some highlights of the week, while musing also about some not-to-be-missed facets of baptism.

6) The Wrong Reasons to Write
Jeff Goins helps those who string words together to break free of poor reasons to keep pressing forward.

May your week ahead be filled with life, as you seek the One from whom it flows!

leaveacommentYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Which link above was today’s best-of-the-best?
  • Why that one?

Direct others to the best of the bunch with a quick comment.

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Thursday Thanks (1-5)

fiveBeginning today, I’ll use this space each Thursday to list five things (items, experiences, people, whatever) for which I’ve been recently grateful. Consider it my “blessings count”. Ann Voskamp’s famous challenge to list 1000 gifts seemed daunting — I’m committing to 500, a two-year venture here on the blog. Better get at it!

1) Muscles
Last weekend was our church hockey league’s wind-up tournament. Playing three games in a day in an annual reminder that I am twice as old as I should be to be undertaking such challenges. But the stiffness that night was one of those feelings that confirms that you’re alive, and feeling alive is always a good thing!

2) March Madness
Today marks the beginning of the high point on this sports-lover’s calendar. While I watch a lot less of it than I used to, this three-week event never fails to provide some of the drama and energy that are unique to College basketball’s tournament format.

3) Toy Trains
My daughters’ Christmas gift was a wooden train set. We’ve since added a few more pieces to the set to up the “creativity factor”. My inner child finds pleasure in working with my two oldest girls to lay out new routes, while working together to protect our handiwork against the baby’s best Godzilla impersonation.

4) Kindle
My experimental, second-hand purchase of this unnecessary item has been a success. I love the bargains that can be found on great books (in electronic formats), and I’m enjoying a particularly pleasurable read about the Holy Spirit these days.

5) Spring
It’s not here yet, but it’s flirting with us. And after weeks of way-below-zero temperatures, that is some mighty fine flirting. The citizens of the Canadian prairies are in the mood for some such flirting!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Did any of this week’s list especially strike a chord with you?
  • What’s one thing you’re particularly grateful for this week?

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Six-Pack (53)

Welcome to the latest Six-Pack! I am so grateful for every reader who stops by to check out the latest assortment of “best links”.

As regular readers already know, these pieces are generally centered on faith or ministry, though we leave sufficient license to include who-knows-what as we discover it!

If six ever feels overwhelming, start with my two *Picks of the Week*, and move out from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Strange Fire and Churches of Christ (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Jonathan Storment enters the “Strange Fire” discussion to consider how it links to our shared heritage. There’s some provocative stuff here, particularly comments made by historian Mark Noll.

2) Why the Psalms Matter, Even the Violent Ones
NT Wright was recently in Seattle to teach about the Psalms. A very brief summary of his material, along with a recording of over 60 minutes is provided here for anyone who thinks that might be too good to pass up.

3) Creating Excellence in Ministry on a Small  Budget
Every church I know is striving to do more with less. How do you effectively stretch your resources without snapping something or doing a second-rate job on a first-rate priority? This article has a number of practical suggestions.

4) C.S. Lewis Reviews “The Hobbit”, 1937 (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
In 1937, CS Lewis reviewed a freshly published novel by his friend Tolkien. He is what he said.

5) Big Promises Can Lead to Better Experiences
A $75 bottle of wine tastes better than a $14 bottle of wine, and it has little to do with the wine. Seth Godin explains.

6) Quotes and More Quotes
Last month, many marked the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death. C.S. Lewis died the same day. Here are Ten Quotes from JFK and Fifty More from Lewis.

May your week ahead be filled with life, as you seek the One from whom it flows!

leaveacommentYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Which link above was today’s best-of-the-best?
  • Why that one?

Direct others to the best of the bunch with a quick comment.

[You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email, in the upper right corner of this page.]

Worth Another Look: A.W. Tozer on the Holy Spirit

Here are a few beautiful portions from one of Tozer’s best-known works:

“A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all. In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. Brief reference is made to Him in the Doxology and the Benediction. Further than that He might well as not exist. So completely do we ignore Him that it is only by courtesy that we can be called Trinitarian….

“…The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life and light and love. In His uncreated nature He is a boundless sea of fire, flowing, moving ever, performing as He moves the eternal purposes of God. Toward nature He performs one sort of work, toward the world another and toward the Church still another. And every act of His accords with the will of the Triune God. Never does He act on impulse nor move after a quick or arbitrary decision. Since He is the Spirit of the Father He feels toward His people exactly as the Father feels, so there need be on our part no sense of strangeness in His presence. He will always act like Jesus, toward sinners in compassion, toward saints in warm affection, toward human suffering in tenderest pity and love.

“It is time for us to repent, for our transgressions against the blessed Third Person have been many and much aggravated. We have bitterly mistreated Him in the house of His friends. We have crucified Him in His own temple as they crucified the Eternal Son on the hill above Jerusalem. And the nails we used were not of iron, but of the finer and more precious stuff of which human life is made. Out of our hearts we took the refined metals of will and feeling and thought, and from them we fashioned the nails of suspicion and rebellion and neglect. By unworthy thoughts about Him and unfriendly attitudes toward Him days without end.”

Quotes are taken from The Divine Conquest (or, God’s Pursuit of Man), pp. 64-75

The Holy Spirit Heals

In Acts 2, we find Jesus’ disciples gathered. The city of Jerusalem is teeming with crowds for the feast of Pentecost, but Jesus’ followers are huddled privately, awaiting the arrival of a promised gift

Acts 2:1-4. When the day of Pentecost came. Pastel & pen. 26 May 2012.We read that the gathering was interrupted by a wind that rattled their venue. Fire proceeded to appear before them and descend upon them, resulting in the inexplicable ability to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus in all the tongues of the known world. Guests to the city were stunned to hear this New-Life message being proclaimed in the dialects of home, wherever home might have been!

Some Bible readers have connected unusual dots in this story.

“Hmm. A story about a crowd of people speaking all the languages of the world. Hmm. I feel like I’ve seen this before.”

TowerBabelWithin the earliest pages of the Bible, we read of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). The story is bizarre for at least a couple reasons: 1) It describes a united humanity setting their sights upon building a tower that would reach the heavens, glorifying them to god-like status.  2) It responds to itself by describing God in a way that appears petty and insecure, as if he felt the need to defend heaven’s borders against the invasion of these ancient architects.

Zooming out from the oddness of either story, one sees a fascinating connection…

Pentecost redeems Babel.

Where diversity (seen in the languages) fractured humanity at Babel, diversity (seen again in languages) depicted God’s unifying of humanity at Pentecost. The Creator who loves diversity and labours for its unity works intensely to bridge gaps, wreck walls, and to execute His all-consuming plan: “to unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).

Babel displays the losses incurred when we are driven by a desire for personal greatness. In ways that we cannot fully grasp, this motivation fragments and divides, actually opposing the universal goals we find at the center of God’s will.

Conversely, Pentecost reveals an image of Christ-centeredness, a wildly submitted desire to see his name spread far and wide based on the conviction that profound blessing and deep life come with him.

Two stories of many mouths speaking many words. Babel’s abandoned tower shows a dust-dry site of no-life-here, despite the sweat and strain spent there. Pentecost invites us into a wind- and fire-charged environment where embracing God’s plan in Jesus Christ releases us into an existence and experience that extends to the ends of the world.