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July 2014 entries

Do We Need the Spirit to Empower Our Churches?

Richard Bargas addressing the 2013 annual meeting of the Evangelical Homiletics Society said, "Nowhere does the Bible command ministers to seek God's unction for empowering the preaching of the Word." He concluded by stating, "When Christ is preached from the pulpit with prayer, passion and precision, there is power."

Let me respond with a thoughtful theological Christian response: that's stupid, idiotic, and downright dangerous. I hope that was dignified enough for my readers. Once again we have a supposed contemporary church expert devalue the work of the Holy Spirit. If you don't understand unction, it is simply the empowerment of the Spirit of God to the preacher in order to supernaturally accomplish what he humanly speaking cannot. Thankfully Mr. Bargas did not eliminate prayer from his prescription for preaching with power. He did, however, totally exclude the Holy Spirit.

I will not defend my assessment of his proclamation as stupid or idiotic except to remind my readers that Jesus Himself was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and He instructed His disciples to wait for power before beginning their preaching ministry. (Luke 24:9) That power came in Acts 2 with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I will explain my assessment of his proclamation as dangerous. This way of thinking, and it is growing, is replacing a dependency on the Holy Spirit with passion and precision. Young pastors are entering into pulpits today having been taught that one preaching method is superior to another. They are being influenced by people they respect to eliminate emotion from their preaching and worship services. I for one have to say that there are times when I enter into a time of preaching with very little passion. I have to turn to the Spirit of God just to give me strength to preach. In many of these instances God shows up in the message in ways that results in sinners being saved, bondage being broken and people being delivered.   I have entered into preaching on other occassions when I thought that the message was precise and powerful because of its content. I have often left for home on those Sundays asking why the message fell on deaf ears.

If the next generation of preachers is characterized by precise, passionate, yes even prayerful preaching, without the Spirit's empowerment then we will be left with an empty faith that has been replaced with lifeless orthodoxy. We will have beautiful empty buildings. Perhaps Europeans will visit out great cathedrals so that their admission price can pay to maintain our buildings.

 Romans 8:10 (NKJV)
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 

            


Will We Have Belly Buttons in Heaven?

I'm taking a moment to come up for air. I have been deeply submerged in thought as I have formulated my thoughts for the last message on heaven to be delivered this Sunday. Much of my study has been born out of questions offered by people on the church's Facebook page concerning a believer's life after death. Their questions have unearthed some questions of my own. One that just hit me out of the blue. It occurred to me as I was thinking about our immortal bodies and how they will differ from our earthly bodies. Will our heavenly body have a belly button? Deep, right? As I pondered this deep theological thought it became less ridiculous the further I explored.

Why do we have belly buttons (umbilicus) anyway? Why are they there? They are constant reminders that we have a beginning and a past. The umbilicus is the remnant of the cord that transfered life giving nutrients from our mother when we were totally dependant upon her for life. What was in her, both good and bad, was transported into us before we were born.

It's interesting to observe that other mammals do not have a visible belly button. Sometimes they are just thin spots in the skin or tiny bumps. Why are ours so pronounced. Could it be that we are to be reminded of our inheritance. We not only inherited our physical features from our parents, but we also have their propensity for rebellion against God and His will. Animals do not need to be reminded, but we do. So as you contemplate your navel you may think about your need for forgiveness.

I have another reason to believe that physical marks on the body have spiritual significance. The scars on Jesus hands and His side. Why do you think Jesus retained the scars in His resurrected body? Shouldn't they have been erased by His resurrection? I suppose they could have been, but Christ allowed them to remain so that they might be a perpetual reminder of His suffering.  Just as our belly buttons are a sign of our inherited sinful nature the scars are a reminder that they have been forgiven completely and eternally. Thank you Jesus!

Now onto the next question. Since Adam and Eve were initially unclothed, will be naked in heaven. Oh brother, this one is going to take a while.