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The Holy Spirit

 

I once read where an author posed this question: Would you rather have Jesus walking beside you or the Holy Spirit living within you?  My natural reaction is to take Jesus beside me.  Wouldn’t that be cool to experience life the way the twelve disciples did?  However, Jesus indicates that we are much better off choosing to have the Spirit within us.  The night before he died he told his disciples that he was leaving for their benefit, in order for the Spirit to come and dwell within them.  It would be better that way.

And Jesus’ belief is proved true by what actually happens.  Note the stark contrast between the pre-Pentecost disciples and the Spirit-filled disciples.  There’s no comparison!  They go from being frightened and confused to fearless and convicted.  I think we regularly underestimate the importance of Pentecost.  If the Spirit had not been poured out on us, little would’ve changed after the resurrection.  Because the Spirit was given on Pentecost everything is changed – the world and us.  Stop and take a moment today to thank God for giving us his Spirit.

Following Jesus Today

Yesterday we talked about how a commitment to Jesus was like giving him a blank check.  We offer everything to Jesus.  We resolve to do whatever he asks of us.  That’s a lot to get your mind around.  It’s hard for me to think about the really big things Jesus might ask me to do in the future.  What if he asks me to do missions overseas?  What if he asks me to serve in a way that is especially challenging?  What if he sets difficult circumstances before me? 

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.  The real questions is not: What might Jesus ask me to do someday?  The real question is: What is Jesus asking me to do today?  And it’s probably not terribly daunting.  Perhaps he’s asking you to speak a kind word or take an interest in someone’s life.  He may be asking you to to send someone a quick text to let them know you’re thinking and praying.  Jesus might ask you to do a favor for someone.  Following Jesus is not about what he might ask you to do in the future.  It’s about what he is asking you to do today.  Jesus will take a blank check for May 22.  One day at a time.

Jesus’ Voice

Jesus walked the earth a long time before smartphones.  So we don’t have any video on Youtube of Jesus’ miracles or sermons.  All we have are the recollections of his disciples. Words on a page, passed down through centuries.  Just like texts and emails today lake intonation and body language, the voice of Jesus in the Gospels are just words.  Not even emojis!  So we don’t always know if Jesus is speaking with righteous anger or gentle compassion.

I’d like to recommend that we hear Jesus’ voice in the Gospels with a lot of gentleness and compassion. Jesus was harsh to those who were keeping others away from him and the Father. But he was gentle with his own. He is the good shepherd. He’s gentle. He lays down his life for his sheep. What is different if you hear compassion and love in Jesus’ voice, rather than anger or annoyance?  What happens when we see a smile on Jesus’ face as he tells parables and converses with his disciple?  We have a much more approachable savior.  We feel safer in his grace.  We become more like him.

Welcome, Samantha Francart!

We are so pleased and excited to announce the hiring of our new Youth Director, Samantha Francart.  Samantha grew up at FCC and was involved in our ministries for many years before moving away for college.  She knows the lay of the land here, but after ten years and a wealth of experiences, she brings a fresh perspective.  As we interviewed her and heard from her references, her heart for youth was so apparent.  She has extensive experience working with students.  Samantha has been teaching high school English in Snyder, TX for the last two years.  She will be moving back to the tri-cities after the school year and finishing up some other commitments.  We anticipate Samantha starting on July 1.  We are excited to welcome her home.  Praise God with us for Samantha and keep her in your prayers as she wraps things up in Texas and heads north!

Kids Belong

One of the most tragic things is when children must pay the price for the sins of their parents.  It’s not fair when innocent people suffer the consequences of others’ poor choices.  Abortion is the classic example of this.  The unborn, without any choice or guilt, are killed.  This is also true of hundreds of children in Muskegon County.  Because of the choices of their parents they are removed from their homes and mostly separated from their parents.  They have no say and no impact on reunification with parents.  Our family has seen this first hand.  It is incredibly sad.

James tells us that “religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…(1:27)”  One of the most concrete ways we can put our faith into practice is by concerning ourselves with the marginalized of society.  As we think about foster care and adoption, there are many ways to help.  Most aren’t called to be foster parents (but some are!).  You can support orphaned children by providing short-term care for families, donating clothes to a clothes closet for foster families, and by praying for foster children and foster parents.  For more ideas, check out the website of an organization in Muskegon called Kids Belong (click here).

Why?

Why? (Michael Card)

 

Why did it have to be a friend who chose to betray the Lord?

Why did he use a kiss to show them that’s not what a kiss is for?

Only a friend can betray a friend a stranger has nothing to gain.

And only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain.

 

And why did there have to be thorny crown pressed upon His head?

It should have been the royal one made of jewels and gold instead.

It had to be a crown of thorns because in this life that we live

For all who seek to love a thorn is all the world has to give.

 

And why did it have to be a heavy cross He was made to bear?

And why did they nail His feet and hands? His love would have held Him there.

It was a cross for on a cross a thief was supposed to pay.

And Jesus had come into the world to steal every heart away.

Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed

And did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?

Was it for sins that I have done he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing the pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide and shut its glories in
when Christ, the mighty Maker, died for his own creatures’ sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face while his dear cross appears,
dissolve my heart in thankfulness, and melt mine eyes to tears.

Work, School, Spring Break, and Heaven

Later this week many families, including mine, will leave town on a spring break trip.  This week is a sort of oasis for many people and families in these parts.  For those longing for summer, it’s an opportunity to enjoy some warm weather until things warm up here.  For students it’s a critical break from school and one that gives them the rejuvenation they need to finish out the school year.  As with any vacation it is nice to take a break from the normal routine.  It’s a form of rest that we need.

Can you imagine turning down a spring break trip because you loved your job so much? Can you imagine not taking a break from school because it was so fulfilling? Well, that’s what I suspect heaven will be like.  There will be no vacations in heaven because we will not need a break from the meaningful  work and lives we lead serving God in his presence. The flow of life will have enough variety, that it will be constantly fascinating.  That’s what we have to look forward to.  Until then, I’m glad there’s spring break.

Simultaneity

Yesterday we talked about living life on two levels.  One on level we encounter the events of our day.  On another level we are seeing the hand of God at work.  We can be awake at these two levels simultaneously, engaging in life and being aware of God’s presence.  Author Thomas Kelly called this state “simultaneity.”  It’s the way to live the life that God offers us.  We can live a life that participates with God’s plans.  We can cooperate, rather than fight, God’s good will for our lives.

It’s easier to talk about than to do.  And so yesterday I shared a simple set of questions with you to help you begin this process.  1) When did you feel close to God today?  2) When did God feel distant today?  I would encourage you to take this week to share these questions with your family.  Talk about them at the dinner table or in the car.  To give you a physical reminder, you can click here for a print out to put on the refrigerator or the dining room table.  Try your best to answer those two questions each day this week.  As you begin thinking about God’s presence in your life, you’ll discover him more easily.