BECOME #2–Counseling

After yesterdays look at repentance, we are turning back towards the phenomenal process that allows transformation to become possible. In BECOME #1- we shall how a disciple’s belief prods them into action.

At baptism, through confession of Christ as Lord, we are given the Holy Spirit, but what is the process of actually living with the Holy Spirit like? Receiving a gift isn’t the same thing as using it! As we continue looking at the building blocks of discipleship we are honing in on transformation, what we are Becoming!  What’s next?

Baptism Leads to Counseling—Now don’t panic! Guys especially when we hear the term counseling we can scoff at the idea. We want nothing to do with sharing our feelings with a stranger, laying on a couch, going to a counselor.  Rest easy, instead of counseling with a stranger, we are given an enduring relationship with God himself through the Holy Spirit.

John 14:16-18,26 are some of my favorite verses because Jesus gives us the reassurance that even in his physical absence he hasn’t forgotten us or abandoned us, but has instead equipped us. — 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Verse 18 especially hits me hard. I think back to the story of my grandfather, 6 years old growing up in Hitler’s Germany. His parents decided it would be safer in an orphanage. At 6, he was all alone, wondering if his family would ever be put back together again. Thankfully, Jesus reveals the power of the Holy Spirit at work—intimacy instead of isolation, truth instead of lies, encouragement instead of estrangement. The greatest of all advocates and counselors. The advocate offers a mentoring session that goes beyond a life coach or self-help DVD or book. Being filled with the Holy Spirit means that we give God control over every area of our lives. Hearing and experiencing God and be heard by God.

All Christians upon their baptism receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, but not all Christians turn their lives over to the Holy Spirit. When teaching this to my seminary students, author and professor James Emery White helped illustrate how the Holy Spirit works. Picture two glasses of water sitting on a desk. In the first cup drop a packet of Alka-Seltzer, with the wrapper still surrounding the tablets.  In the second glass, drop in two other Alka-Seltzer tablets and watch as it fizzes throughout the water, there is action and life. Notice how you can have the Holy Spirit and not his filling.

How much of you does the Holy Spirit have? The answer takes us to two radical opposed positions: Frustration or Satisfaction—Paul describes those who have the Holy Spirit but don’t use it as neglecting, grieving, or quenching the Holy Spirit. (Think about the last time you went camping—Smokey the Bear’s jingle ringing in your Ear—only you can prevent forest fires—pouring water on the fire—only smoke—only wet wood) but Paul shows us there is another way to live when we unwrap the gift of the Holy Spirit—using adjectives like sowing, following and praying daily. The Holy Spirit always respects your free will—never forcing treatment, but always ready for transformation to begin or continue. Paul prayed that we would have a growing relationship with the Holy Spirit: “I keep asking that God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17-18). The Holy Spirit after all is your chance to know God personally and practically. Letting God have access to who you are so you can become more like him.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I use the word Father because that is how you reveal yourself. A loving, involved, and gracious Father. Too often, I am your prodigal son, lacking gratitude for all that you’ve given me. This morning Father, I turn my heart, mind, and soul over to the working of your Holy Spirit. To know you better is to Know, to love you better is to Love. In Christ’s Name! Amen.

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GIFTED, PART 1

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I want you to think of spiritual gifts as puzzle pieces.

Just as you would never start a puzzle if they had no shared source (50 pieces a train puzzle, 50 pieces from a light houses on the Atlantic, and 100 pieces wild cats on the prairie)  Paul reveals to us that the shared origin of the gifts…  

Many gifts but one Spirit! 1 Cor. 12: 4-6 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

We see from the very beginning a diversity and unity playing out simultaneously as Paul lays out three distinct expressions from the same Spirit: different kinds of gifts, service, and work. Although each may sound synonymous instead they are very much progressive. First, the Holy Spirit expresses the Spiritual Gifts onto each of us at the point of baptism, secondly, we are called on to express the gifts through our lives in service, and they begin to be expressed in the lives of others through work, which Paul uses to denote effectiveness. Warren Wiersbe in his book 50 Christians Every Christian Should Know said, “God builds a man and then uses that man to build a work.” Just like a rock being thrown on a placid lake, the ripples play out as the breath of life continues to make a bigger impact.

 Just as we each have a puzzle piece, we each have something to contribute to the overall progress of the Kingdom. Unfortunately, in many ways it resembles a football game. Nicky Gumbel sets the scene, “There are 22,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise, watching 22 people who are in desperate need of a rest.” (Alpha Course). What ensues is the minority working while the majority watches, leaving the minority to put together the full picture of what God has called us to without all the pieces.

 Several years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law showed the prosperity of the diversity of gifts but interdependence. The highest ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and, when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspertine. They had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspertine had guided the blind Mr. Overton down a flight of stairs. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. Gary Inrig, Life in His Body.

In the church the gifts of the Spirit takes that which is imperfect and makes it impenetrable–meaning there no benchwarmers vs. starters—or spectators versus stars—The prophet Joel prophesized, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. Not just some but all believers.  If you believe and have been baptized you have been blessed with a gift.