The task ahead of us is to live and evoke the spirit of Isaiah in our community. As the theologian Walter Brueggemann, and others like him, argue, our task is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousÂness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us. And increasingly that culture is become inimical to the Gospel. Either way, a community rooted in the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a curiosity and a threat in such a culture. No wonder Isaiah’s argument that one should rely on a faithful, historical God was such a threatening message to His generation. And to ours. Our world does not understand, much less believe in our history. God is not to be trusted because He cannot be quantified. He is not to be controlled. This God makes self-proclaimed kings of the earth uncomfortable. And this God of ours, therefore, has been making kings like Herod, Ahab, and Nero uncomfortable for ages. I remember a simple, powerful Gospel Song that all of us in our 1966 Southern church sang. This was the song of the redeemed. But we scarcely knew it. “Jesus loves the little children. . . red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight.” Since I was still too young to doubt the veracity of my parents and teachers, I actually believed that song. And, when I started living that song it changed my world. And when enough people live that message we will change our world. Our cause will become holy, our witness worthy of the Gospel. There will be opposition. But our song brings hope, life, and salvation. So it is worth it. Be bold and courageous, young people, and sing a new song. Do your best on the SAT to bring glory to Him. And become a light to this new generation!
Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category
Finally, what does it mean to the future of America to have 4 million of its best, brightest, and spirit filled students graduating from the most prestigious universities in the world? What will it mean to have four million new business persons, artists, authors, military officers, business leaders, and government leaders who are spirit-filled evangelical Christians? I can feel the ground shaking!!!!
- Find a local church before you go to college. Go to the first service you can.
- Parents should meet the local pastor and introduce themselves.
- Participate in a local Christian groupâ€”Navigators, Inter-varsity, et al. But that does not substitute for a local church.
- Purpose to live a Godly life before you face temptation.
- Set up a study schedule that is a priority only behind your devotional life.
- Practice courtship.
- Expect persecution. The main persecution you will receive will be about your profession that Christ is the only way, the only truth, the only life.
- Summer school can be a spiritual and financial opportunity for you. You can participate in mission trips that may count for academic credit and may also help you grow spiritually. Also, summer school may be a cost-effective way to accelerate your college experience and thereby save money for you and your parents.
- Avoid all appearance of evil.
- Write from a Christian perspective but do not allow your confessional stand to be an excuse for shoddy work.
- You will probably not be able to choose your roommate before you first arrive. But you can choose your roommate for your sophomore year. Choose wisely.
- Pray for your unsaved friends.
- Know the Truth.
- Live the Truth.
- Work hard and be the best follower of Christ that you can be!
During the winter my family heats our house with a coal boiler/furnace. As far as I am concerned, I would not like it to be any different. A transplanted Arkansas boy who now lives in the often-frigid Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania, I like my apple cider to be steaming and my house to be about 78 degrees. An anthracite coal-burning stove does the job, but there is one problem with coal heat, and it occurs about three oâ€™clock every morning: the fire dies down to the point where the house is dangerously cold.
Old Testament Levitical priests had a duty to tend the fire in the tent of meeting, to keep it roaring and bright. The sacred fire was to be safe but huge. The fire on the altar, the eternal flame on which sacrifices were offered to God, was not to go out. Other duties could slide. Other tasks could be deferred. But the fire on the altar was never to go out. At all costs and inconvenience, they were to preserve this sacred fire where Godâ€™s people were to offer their gifts and rededicate themselves to him.
The Lord said to Moses: â€œGive Aaron and his sons this command: â€˜These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar. The priest shall then put on his linen clothes, with linen undergarments next to his body, and shall remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire has consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar. Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.â€™â€ (Leviticus 6:8 – 13)
Because of Christâ€™s complete sacrifice on the cross, we contemporary Christians do not need to worship anymore with burnt offerings. Though we may use banners or streamers to depict surrogate fire, we do not maintain a literal eternal flame in our churches. Yet the need to keep the spiritual fires burning is vital and real. Whatever else we may choose to do or not do, the fire must be tended and preserved.
Through the centuries believers have served well as fire tenders. Brother Lawrence, Martin Luther, and others have fanned the flames and kept the fire burning. â€œThe secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this lawâ€ (Deuteronomy 29:29). This is a gathered inheritance kept alive by men and women of faith. Truth is restated; more than that, the reader will observe that saints throughout the ages have built on the faith of those who preceded them. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: that is true, and truth is the same, forever. Revelation of truth, though, is forever becoming better understood, we hope. The previous generation of believers passes the torch to us, and we pass it to the next, and so on. Each generation builds on the illumination of the previous generation. We trust that the world is better for it.
On my farm grows an oak tree that was planted thirty years ago. It began its life full of potential, and it was beautiful in its own right. Today it is so much more beautiful than it was thirty years ago. It is the same tree, but oh, how much larger and fuller are its branches and fruits! For thirty years it has fulfilled its destiny by adding X mass, and now I anticipate it will add X + Y mass over the next thirty years. In fact, I am counting on it. Diurnally I remove acorns and leaves deposited on my truck. It is the same tree, still full of potential, but producing more fruit than ever. A vicious blight or uncaring gypsy moth may kill it someday, but I already see a new oak seedling growing in its redolent shadow.
So the saints of old and of today are tending the fire, growing the tree, enlarging knowledge about truth. They speak and write about the same truth, but they are doing so with more insight and vigor than ever. God never changes. His Word never changes. Yet as the world changes and as peopleâ€™s knowledge expands, one finds that Godâ€™s Word applies to these new challenges in new ways earlier generations never imagined.
This is not to imply that Christian faith is a solitary exercise in narcissism. My favorite theologian, Carl Henry, has observed that while Christianity is personal, it is never private. Truth is revealed that others might know Christ as Savior and Lord.
We are not going to run out of fuel. The Holy Spirit is here to encourage, to inspire every generation. There is, I have no doubt, a new C. S. Lewis or Oswald Chambers alive today.