Thursday, July 29, 2010

Got Spirit?

Recently, I was asked why we don't celebrate the Holy Spirit more. Why do some movements within the Evangelical church not have holidays like Christmas and Easter for the Holy Spirit (i.e. Pentecost)? Let me offer one possible explanation. The Spirit, by His vey nature, tends to shy away from attention. His role in the Trinity is often to magnify the first two persons. I’m not sure He would want a holiday for Himself, although to honor Him is certainly not unbiblical.
An example of the Spirit’s role is seen in Galatians 4:6
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, ‘Abba’, Father.” Note what the Spirit does once He is in our Hearts; He points to the Father and causes intimacy.
But the church universal has different views on this. For example, the Charismatics, in my opinion, tend to focus disproportionately on the Spirit while the“high church” rarely teaches on Him at all. I think there is a balance between the two extremes. Several years ago, I actually took a prayer retreat and spent the entire time talking to the Spirit. I thanked Him for the great work He had done in my life. As Sanders puts it, He is often the "silent Partner" of God's providential movement in our souls. It certainly couldn't hurt to thank Him for such marvelous grace from time to time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Delightful Openings

The famous theologian, Henri Nouwen, gave the following insight about discipleship: "The word discipleship and the word discipline are the same word -- that has always fascinated me. Once you have made the choice to say, 'Yes, I want to follow Jesus,' the question is, 'What disciplines will help me remain faithful to that choice?' If we want to be disciples of Jesus, we have to live a disciplined life. By discipline, I do not mean control. If I know the discipline of psychology or of economics, I have a certain control over a body of knowledge. If I discipline my children, I want to have a little control over them. But in the spiritual life, the word discipline means 'the effort to create some space in which God can act.' Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you're not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn't planned or counted on."(source: "Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry" by Henri Nouwen). Although I don't always agree with Nouwen's theology, his understanding of the disciplines is profound. Recently, I found myself in a rut when it came to the daily discipline of what we as evangelicals call "quiet times." For years, I followed a daily Bible reading/prayer program and journaled. These times provided great strength for me as I connected with the Lord. But lately I've found a dullness creeping into the routine. The delight of spending time with my precious Father was being replaced with feelings of drudgery and guilt. Something was missing. So I've shaken things up a little. Since moving to Rockford, I now have a 20 minute commute (40 min roundtrip) daily. I'm using it to have open conversations with God. Instead of instinctively turning on the radio and filling my mind with the latest sports news on "King James," I'm talking to the real King and letting Him into the deepest places . . . the places where there's a little boy afraid of being a grown up, or where there's a wound of the heart that needs the Healer's touch. These prayer times are precious! I can feel Christ engaged with my soul and my delight in Him is awakened. I'm still regularly reading the Word, but these prayer times are lubricating the process with grace and opening my heart to more of the one who makes life work.