I’m still reeling from the way God showed up through my friend Eric. He and his wife Rutha live in Thailand, and they are here visiting family and raising support for the mission work they do there. Eric teaches in an international school. It was almost like I was with my friend Lewis who does mission work in Tanzania. Both those men are in tune with the Holy Spirit, and even if the time I spend with either one is brief it’s like a deep weekend retreat where they draw me nearer the Father.
My cup is running over, and I cannot describe the peace and contentment I have in our LORD Jesus Christ. I pray for all those who do not know this peace to come to know this peace because to describe it is to put into words what can only be experienced. Words are powerful, and I do not discredit one of them, but to truly live in the power of the Spirit you have to experience it. I was sharing with Eric my love for Romans 8, and the fact that the Spirit “intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” is proof that we have an inkling of what the Spirit really does. In the CoC we made sure we got everyone dunked, but when it came to the gift of the Holy Spirit we really dropped the ball. I’d like the read more the writings by Barton W. Stone because in our tradition he was move vocal about the Spirit than was Thomas and Alexander Campbell. That might be a statement of ignorance, but it’s the way I understand it. The Holy Spirit has always been an interest of mine. I’ve preached sermons about it. I’m sure I wrote papers about it over the years, and obviously I’ve blogged about it. Sounds like I need to put more research into my blog posts uh? 🙂
It makes me want to read my mentor Joe Beam’s book Seeing The Unseen again.
Eric and I met for lunch a couple of days ago, and it was well over a 2 hour lunch. We met back up in the evening for an alumni gathering at Lipscomb, and funny thing was there was an Abilene Christian University alumni gathering in the same building, so since Eric graduated from ACU he went to that one too. I joined him at that gathering when ours was over because I didn’t just want to leave without hugging him. My doc was up there too because Dr. Miller went to ACU. He was deep in conversation with someone, so I didn’t butt in, but I pointed him out to Eric. He goes to church where Josh Graves pastors.
It’s really exciting how the Spirit has been moving in our “denomination.” I put denomination in quotation marks because we used to brag that the Church of Christ is not a denomination because we don’t have a headquarters, and technically that is true because every local church is autonomous, but I’d argue that our colleges have evolved into little regional headquarters, but that’s just me. You don’t have to quote me.
Part of the conversation Eric and I had was centered around the fact that what we are trying to get at as believers is not the things that separate us as Christians, but the fact that Jesus Christ unites all of us in whatever denomination we choose to serve him in. That statement has evolved over the decades in Christendom, but I am oh so thankful that we have more of a cooperation with other churches as we advance the message of Jesus Christ.
You’ve heard the Church of Christ jokes about other Christians in heaven saying to be quiet because the Church of Christ peeps think their the only ones here! The Church of Christ theology developed a semantic that communicated to the world that if you don’t hear, believe, repent and are baptized to receive salvation and the gift of the Spirit then you aren’t going to heaven. I appreciate our forefathers for studying the Word, and I love our tradition of “speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent,” but I’ll be damned if I accept some man’s teaching over the illuminating truth God himself reveals to me as I experience his logos, ethos and pathos in my own life. I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water, but I will change that dirty water before I wash that baby again. You don’t put new wine into old wine skins, but the purity of the wine never changes. What encapsulates it does. I believe with my whole heart that baptism is very important, but if someone dies on the way to be baptized they aren’t going to hell dear ones. Like my hero Landon Saunders says if God needs to take a break on Judgement Day I’m not going to volunteer to get up on the throne!
I’m stepping off my soap box!
God is good, and we have been called to shout that from the mountain tops. We must show the world that love defines us. That’s tricky because Satan has leveraged the word love to promote his own agenda. Love doesn’t mean we condone every choice someone makes. God has never said we can do whatever we want to do. Scripture is resplendent with stories of people making that choice, but there are a number of stories that show men and women turning back to God.
I’m here on planet Earth to show the world that still happens! God’s love is the most powerful force of unadulterated acceptance, and we know He loves the entire world! We have to be vessels of that reality. God longs for the coming to Him of all people, and I long for that too. Sin separates us from that, and though I will sin today I know His love is greater than anything I face that separates me from Him! I believe that with my whole heart! We are a broken and hurting world, but that doesn’t phase the Father, Son or Spirit for one minute!
The message of Revelation is that God wins dear ones! Unbelievers can martyr Christians till they’re blue in the face, but that’s not going to stop the love of God!
I can’t think of a better sentence to end on! I love you guys!