Archives for category: Holy Spirit

This year I started writing songs about Biblical characters. Far from being perfect people, they are all deeply flawed individuals, graced by God’s presence in their lives. If we can undermine our own thoughts about them being superheroes, we can imagine their thoughts, emotions, and motivations. These series of songs are called Ballads From The Book. Last night, my wife and I were able to play them publicly for the first time. Here’s some video footage. You can watch the whole concert from beginning to end, or just the individual songs.

 

 

 

 

Well-meaning people tell us that the Christian gospel will put us in charge of life, will bring us happiness and bounty. So we go out and buy a Bible. We adapt, edit, sift, summarize. We then use whatever seems useful and apply it in our circumstances however we see fit. We take charge of the Christian gospel, using it as a toolbox to repair our lives, or as a guidebook for getting what we want, or as an inspirational handbook to enliven a dull day. But we aren’t smart enough to do that; nor can we be trusted to do that. The Holy Spirit is writing us into the revelation, the story of salvation. We find ourselves in the story as followers of Jesus. Jesus calls us to follow him and we obey – or we do not. This is an immense world of God’s salvation that we are entering; we don’t know enough to use or apply anything. Our task is to obey – believingly, trustingly obey. Simply obey in a ‘long obedience.’

 — Eugene Peterson, The Pastor

A neat little story from our worship time today:

Whilst singing ‘Forever Reign’, I kept hearing the old chorus, “I have decided to follow Jesus…” in my head. It was kind of distracting – so distracting, that I followed the impulse, hoped the melody fit the tag chords we were playing, and prayed it was God. We got to the end of the section and moved onto the next song. “That was neat,” I thought.

At the end of the service, a lady told me that this morning she had been praying and listening to the Lord speak to her. All the while, she was singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus…” Then, in our service, she heard it again as we began to spontaneously sing it out. It was a confirmation to her that she was hearing the Lord.

No gold dust, lightning, or clouds of glory. Just an old song, and a heart that needed to hear from God. Worship leaders, follow those little God thoughts. He knows exactly who He wants to reach, and how to reach them. Sometimes, in those moments between the songs in our awesome setlists, God wants to speak. That urge that feels distracting may actually be God nudging you as if to say, “Hey, can I interrupt you here?”

Today is a guest post from my wife, Sandra:



I’m currently pregnant with our second child, and I’ve been put on bedrest by my physician. It’s been hard to sit around a lot. Netflix has been great because they have such a variety of things to watch. I came across Hoarders: Season 1, and thought, “I have nothing else to watch, this might be interesting.”  It’s a show about people who refuse to throw things away, and how this affects the way they live.

It was not at all what I thought it would be. I was equal parts horrified, confused, saddened and convicted while watching these people suffer with this illness. The problem is not just the mess, but what is in the mind that keeps people in this state. They may even recognize the problem and want to be free, but the prison is so strong that many feel they can’t beat it. They may have help, but being so overwhelmed with the task at hand, and finding themselves “empty” in the process, not much gets done.

The more I thought about this condition, the more I saw that I do this so much in my heart. I hoard things that are trash for the soul; they are unhealthy, and sicken my heart by keeping them. Eventually they weaken me, my relationships and friendships, and my relationship with God. I need to regularly clean my heart of pride, hurts, fear, mistrust, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness.

Jesus gave us a warning that you can’t just cast out a demon from someone – they also must be filled with the Spirit of God. If not, then seven more will come and make their home in a man’s heart, leaving him worse than before.

We must all be careful to not just “clean out our heart” but to allow it to be filled with God’s Spirit. In this way, we will be on a long, but good journey towards God’s heart, not just leaving a hole exposed. This is one of the real reasons why there is the physical/mental problem of hoarding and the spiritual/emotional kind as well. It is because, as fallen humans, we naturally seek for things outside of God to fill our need. It is a need that is a vacuum. It cannot be filled by natural, earthly things – they fade, wear away, get destroyed. Instead, we must fill it with the everlasting God, who can and will satisfy every single need, and will fill the hole in our hearts better than any other thing could.

Jesus made it possible. We don’t have to be in bondage to feelings, anger, and hurts. Jesus died on the cross to free us from the bondage sin has in our hearts. We can be free, if we trust God enough to take the junk from our hearts. He is a good Father, and gives gifts to His children. What He asks us to throw out, He replaces with even better things than we could ever imagine!

“As to what spiritual rebirth is, however, we can say that persons reborn in the Spirit are characterized by their single-mindedness. They have only one desire: to do God’s will in all things, or – to put it in Jesus’ words to Nicodemus – to “do the truth” and thus “to come out into the light so that what they are doing may plainly appear as done in God” (John 3:21). They are so caught up in God’s love that everything else can only receive its meaning and purpose in the context of that love. They ask only one question: “What is pleasing to the Spirit of God?” And as soon as they have heard the sound of the Spirit, they follow its promptings even when it upsets their friends, disturbs their environment, and confuses their admirers.”

Henri Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing

During a recent sermon series on Sanctification, our Pastor asked my friend Shawn and I to answer some questions about our experience of being saved and set apart for the purposes of God. Here are the links to the 3 videos:

Question 1: “Was there a time in your life when you did not fully understand what it meant to be set apart?”

Question 2: “Can you describe the moment you saw things from God’s perspective instead of your own?”

Question 3: “How did you respond to God’s call to be sanctified for Him?”





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