What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Dr. Wayne Grudem was one of my professors when I studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity Seminary. Dr. Grudem received his PhD from Cambridge, his MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary and his BA from Harvard University. Dr. Grudem is a New Testament scholar and he wrote “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.” Chapter 39 of his Systematic Theology book is entitled, “Baptism in and Filling with the Holy Spirit.” HERE is the link to this chapter. I believe Dr. Grudem does an excellent job of explaining what the Bible teaches when it comes to the topic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

There are incredibly important questions that this chapter will answer:

What is baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit received by all believers the moment they are saved or is it a later work?

Are there two types of Christians? Those who are baptized in the Spirit and ordinary Christians?

What is the difference between being baptized in the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit?

What role does speaking in tongues have to do with all of this?

How do we understand the “second experiences” of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts?

One of the things I appreciate about this chapter by Grudem is that he is looking at all of Scripture and not just a few isolated passages. So pour yourself a cup of coffee and get ready to do some heavy duty reading and thinking!

Why do smart men and women settle for the wrong person?

One of the great temptations that exists among single people is to settle for a relationship that is not best for them and does not glorify God. I have been in pastoral ministry for approximately 20 years and I can guarantee you that these relational compromises take place all the time.

On top of that I have three kids and one of my great desires is to see them marry someone who loves God with all of their heart. So this topic of finding the right person to marry is very important to me.

With that said, I want to strongly recommend to you that you buy and read “She’s Got The Wrong Guy: Why Smart Women Settle” by Deepak Reju. Yes, the book is about how and why women make bad relational decisions (and how to avoid it) but this would be a great book for everyone to read. Singles should read it. Teens. Moms and dads. Male and female. This book is excellent and will give you a lot to think about when it comes to what to look for when it comes to dating and marriage.

The author, Deepak Reju, is a pastor of biblical counseling and families at Capitol Baptist Church in Washington D.C. His writing is absolutely filled with with biblical wisdom and not merely his own opinion.

Part 1 will begin to answer the question, why do smart women settle, and how to live by faith in all of your relationships.

In Part 2 Deepak begins to describe some of the kinds of people that could potentially lead to a bad marriage:

-The control freak

-The promiscuous guy

-The unchurched guy

-The new convert

-The unbeliever

-The angry man

-The lone ranger

-The commitment-phobic man

-The passive man (danger!)

-The unteachable guy

In Part 3 you will find topics like, breaking up for the glory of God, in pursuit of a real Christian man, why waiting is okay, grace for today.

As I have already said, I strongly recommend this book. I believe it could potentially save you, or someone you care about, a lot of heart ache.

Slow death in small town America

I grew up in a small town in America. I have memories of mom and dad attending church at times and prayer happening before the evening meal. It was at Vacation Bible School where I said the sinner’s prayer and I was eventually baptized. In my home, and in the life of my parents, Christianity and church always felt more like an obligation than a passion.

Yeah, I attended youth group for awhile in high school, but eventually sports and work became more of a priority for me. There were moments where I sensed that something was not quite right with my faith. All the stories of lives changed and real joy in Christ seemed to only be the experience of other people. I just kept telling myself that I was not much different than mom and dad and my other church friends.

Went off to college and had a hard time connecting with a campus ministry or a local church. During college I grew intellectually and began distancing myself from quite a few of the myths of Christianity that I believed as a young boy. Eventually I got involved with the wrong friends and ended up partying and pursuing pleasure. Was there some temporary guilt? Sure. But I shrugged it off and found it easy to get distracted with a million other things.

I met a girl. She came from a Christian home and genuinely seemed to love God. We dated in college and eventually got married and moved back to my hometown. Life got busy and we found once again that it was hard to find time to get connected and involved in church. If I was being completely honest there were some people in the church that really bugged me and I had a hard time laying aside my bitterness and anger. The love for God that my wife had at one time seemed to slowly fade away. My kids were becoming apathetic about spiritual things. Was I the reason for their lukewarm faith?

I worked hard all my life. I had a passion for politics and those closest to me certainly knew my opinions. I took care of my family, enjoyed my hobbies and tried my best to be a good person. Was involved in Kiwanis. Attended church on occasion. Eventually, like everyone I died.

At my funeral my family and friends all had nice things to say about me. I was a good guy. I loved my kids. I was an avid hunter and fisherman. I had great sense of humor. The pastor preached about how I was with God and in a better place.

I never had a relationship with Jesus.

The Christmas Gift We Leave Unopened

When Jesus entered into the world of Mary and Joseph their lives became…more difficult.

They became the scandalized couple of Nazareth. “Sure Mary, the baby is from God, OK.”

Not hard to imagine that they lost some friends. Mary’s pregnancy was anything but calm. Traveling for the census, having the child in a dirty manger. The list of difficulties because Jesus entered their lives is quite lengthy.

Jesus did not put on flesh and enter into Mary and Joseph’s world to make their lives safer and more comfortable. Jesus came to Mary and Joseph as Immanuel to be with them.

I think all too often we are looking for God to give us the gift of a better, more pleasant life. We keep looking, we keep waiting and all the while we silently become disillusioned with God or wonder if there is something wrong with us. Perhaps the problem is that we are overlooking God’s gift to us.

Over in the corner, under the tree, there is a Gift that is neglected even by those who are followers of Christ. The Gift quietly waits. Waiting for us to remember once again how amazing it is that God loves us so much that he became a baby to be with us.

God might change your circumstances, he might not. Our joy has very little to do with God giving us our private wish list. Our joy is found in this one thing, Jesus (Immanuel) is with you and loves you no matter what you are going through.

You and I have a decision to make this Christmas season. Will we keep looking at the gifts from God (marriage, family, success, career) and waiting for them to satisfy the deepest aches of our soul? Or, will we quiet ourselves, remove the unnecessary distractions, and worship the Gift who loved us so much that he came to this earth to be with us and die for us?

Sometimes we talk about the presence of God, drawing close to Immanuel, and we quite honestly aren’t real sure what that means or how we do it. It does not require going to the top of a mountain or going on a spiritual retreat. HERE is a brief article that will help you even in the middle of all the busyness of a holiday season to enjoy being with Immanuel.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Matthew 1:23

Week 2-Talking about the lie that you are enough

This is week two of discussing Alisa Childer’s new book, “Live Your Truth and Other Lies: Exposing Popular Deceptions That Make Us Anxious, Exhausted, and Self-Obsessed.”

I’m not going to cover every chapter, just the ones that stand out to me the most. Last week we looked at the lie (chapter 3), “Live Your Truth.” This week we are in chapter 4 and talking about “You Are Enough.”

Love to hear back from you!

The Devil’s Great Deception

“Deception: a statement or action that hides the truth, or the act of hiding the truth.”

The devil’s great deception these days is to get the masses to believe the seductive lie that we are most loving to other people when we either conceal or minimize the truth. The emphasis is on love, but the problem is that this love is divorced from the holiness of God. This lie means that God exists to be our cheerleader and his great desire is that we discover and pursue the desires of our heart. Make no mistake about it, this self-made god is in fact a monster and will lead us to fleeting pleasures, empty souls, and spiritual death.

What Are the Main Ways We Grow Spiritually?

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” -Jeremiah 29:13

How do we grow spiritually? What are the main ingredients of a flourishing Christian life? I hear these types of questions quite a bit and so I wanted to share with you a few helpful ideas. This list is not exhaustive, but I am praying that it inspires you to seek after God and to discover the joy of growing in Christlikeness.

ONE: Are you born again?

“A troubling reality in much of evangelical life is that convincing someone they are saved seems to take precedence over making sure someone actually is saved. This must change. Somehow questioning another person’s salvation became taboo in evangelical culture, when it could possibly be one of the most loving things you can do for another; it could mean the difference between seeds that sprout and bloom and seeds that are snatched away.” -Dean Inserra, The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel

It really must start by asking and answering this question; do you know Jesus? Cultural Christianity is such a huge problem which means that many people who are merely religious are assuming that they know Jesus. Not long ago I met with a lady who had been in the church on a regular basis for over 50 years and yet she was not sure if she had a personal relationship with Jesus. If you want to learn more about the problems of Cultural Christianity go HERE.

A person who is saved at some point in time in their life has been faced with a tremendous crisis. Here is the crisis each person who is ultimately saved must face. There is a point in time when you realize that you are a sinner and separated from God (Ephesians 2:1). If you truly get this it will cause you to become deeply concerned about the security of your soul. The second thing that will happen is you will begin to understand that the only way out of your distress is through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 does a great job summarizing the heart of the gospel. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Once you begin to understand who Jesus is and what he has done you are utterly amazed that he came to this earth to die on a cross in your place so that you might have eternal life. You respond by doing what Jesus says in Mark 1:15, you believe in Jesus and repent of your sins. This belief is not mere mental assent about who Jesus is. It is trusting in Jesus and believing that he alone is the way to a eternal relationship with God. Have you had this saving encounter with Jesus?

TWO: Read, study, and meditate on the Bible

I might just tell you that it is really important to read your Bible on a daily basis. Let me be direct, you will never grow spiritually if you are not reading God’s Word. But I also want to give you a few tools to help you with this.

HERE are some study guides from Crossway that will do a great job of helping you to dig into different books of the Bible. You can use these guides for personal use or in a group study.

HERE is a link to a number of different Bible reading plans.

I would definitely encourage you to read through books of the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the one who put the books together and there are themes and truths that you will not discover if you are merely jumping from one random text to another.

THREE: Pray

“Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.” – E.M Bounds

I don’t think there is just one right way of praying.

Pray while driving to work.

Pray while doing chores around the house.

Pray throughout the day (a quiet ongoing conversation).

We can (and should) pray throughout the day but I would strongly encourage you to find a daily time that you get alone to spend time with God. I know with a busy life and kids this is not easy, but it is vitally when it comes to your spiritual growth.

FOUR: Critical question, are there areas of your life where you are stuck? Areas you have not dealt with or surrendered to God?

“The Christian who has stopped repenting has stopped growing.” – John Blanchard

I think this is an area that often times gets overlooked. It happens on a fairly regular basis that I am talking to someone and they begin to tell me that they don’t feel like they are growing spiritually. Many times as we are talking I find that the person has an area of their life that is not fully surrendered to the Lord. Maybe it’s not sin, maybe it is a poor understanding of the Word of God.

Maybe by asking questions I can help you understand the many ways that we can get stuck spiritually.

Is there unresolved anger in your life? Instead of dealing with it you find that it is keeping you from God and relationships with other people?

Are you stuck in a habitual sin that is robbing you of your joy? Are there areas of your life that you are making spiritual compromises? This leads to us quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit. “Do not quench the Spirit.” -1 Thessalonians 5:19

Have you made the mistake of distancing yourself from the church?

Have you begin to accept the lie that lukewarm Christianity is kinda normal and just not that big of a deal?

Do you look at your family, friends, and other people in the church and come to the conclusion that you are not that much different from them so maybe you are OK?

Have you been abused (spiritually, physically, physically) and have never truly dealt with it? I know from 20 years of pastoral ministry that if we don’t name these areas of hurt and pain and walk through it with the hope of the gospel that we run the risk of staying stuck spiritually. Often times this means that we fail to see all the negative ways we have been trying to cope with our trauma.

Is there ongoing sexual sin in your life? (porn, lust, sexual immorality, etc?)

If all of these questions feel overwhelming then boil it down to this, is there an area of your life that you simply have not dealt with and the result is that you have become spiritually plateaued?

FIVE: Get involved in deep relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ

This is the one that so many Christians think they can do without. From Genesis to Revelation it is clear that God designed his sons and daughters to be in deep relationships with other believers in the church. HERE you will find me responding to the unbiblical idea that we don’t need the church to be a Christian.

We need to be in relationships with other people where they know who we really are, our strengths and weaknesses, and they have the green light to speak truth into our life. At New Life Church we encourage relationships by getting involved in Life Groups and D Groups. We definitely need other Christians in our life if we want to become more like Jesus.

SIX: Attend church on a regular basis

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:25

So number five was about getting into deep, messy relationships with others in the church. This one is about gathering together for worship and the proclamation of the Word of God as the collective body of Christ. We really have to fight against the individualism that is so rampant in our culture. Allow me to borrow a story about Charles Spurgeon that helps explain the importance of gathering with the church on a regular basis.

“Pastor Charles Spurgeon once visited a man who had not attended his church for some time. The man said he was still a Christian but didn’t think he needed to go to church. Without saying a word, Pastor Spurgeon took the tongs from the fireplace and removed one coal, setting it in the corner of the fireplace away from the others. It soon went out. The man got the message: The coals in a fire need each other to stay hot, and Christians need the fellowship of other Christians and the ministry of the Word to keep them spiritually hot!”

SEVEN: Listen to worship music during the week

I used to grumble about the state of Christian music. I complained that there is so little quality Christian music. Truth be told it can be hard to find excellent Christian music that you enjoy, but it does exist. I will share this with you, I know that I am going through a dry spiritual season when I am not listening to worship music throughout the week.

Rivers and Robots-Burn For You

My musical taste may not be yours but I do think incorporating worship/Christian music into your daily life will sweeten your walk with Christ.

What will your response be to this blog post?

“22 Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves. 23 For anyone who hears the word but does not carry it out is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, 24 and after observing himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom, and continues to do so—not being a forgetful hearer, but an effective doer—he will be blessed in what he does.” -James 1:22-25

Merely reading this article without take steps of obedience is pointless. Take a moment right now and reflect on what you need to do to deepen your spiritual life.

I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment!

Week 1-Live Your Truth

“You can choose what you believe, Shuffler, but you can’t change what’s true.” -S.D. Smith, The Green Ember

I am going to be posting a video from each chapter from this wonderful book, “Live Your Truth: And Other Lies” by Alisa Childers. Today we are looking at the lie that truth is relative and we get to define what is and what is not reality based on our feelings and desires. I would love to hear from you. So feel free to ask questions and share your thoughts here on my blog!

“The Thrill of Orthodoxy” by Trevin Wax

Do-it-yourself spirituality is becoming more and more common these days. Based on my personal observation I would describe do-it-yourself spirituality as picking and choosing what we want to believe based on our personal preferences and desires. This is in stark contrast with biblical Christianity which is about discovering the truth outside of ourselves (primarily in the Word of God) and adjusting our lives accordingly.

Because we live in a time when people increasingly think truth is found by looking inside ourselves we desperately need a book like “The Thrill of Orthodoxy” by Trevin Wax. I purchased and read the book and I strongly encourage you to buy and read it as well. I have a hard time imagining that I will read a better or more important book this year.

A book about orthodoxy? Isn’t that kinda…boring? That is exactly the lie that Wax is working so hard to dispel:

Orthodoxy is an ancient castle with spacious rooms and vaulted ceilings and mysterious corridors, a vast expanse of practical wisdom handed down from our forefathers and mothers in the faith. Some inhabit the castle but fail to sift through its treasures. Others believe the castle stands in the way of progress and should be torn down. A few believe the castle’s outer shell can remain for aesthetic purposes, so long as the interior is gutted. But in every generation, God raises up those who see the value in the treasure, men and women who maintain a deep and abiding commitment to recognize and accentuate the unique beauty of Christian truth so that future generations can be ushered into its splendor.

The world finds it thrilling to follow the suggestion of the old song from the 1960s-“to make your own kind of music” and “sing your own special song.” You decide what song to sing, what path to follow, what traditions to cast off, and what beliefs work for you “even if no one else sings along.”

But the truth is, the reverse is more thrilling: we need the “old old story” of “how a Savior came from glory.” We need to be part of a courageous choir of Christians-reawakened to the beauty and majesty of the Christian melody, committed to right belief and right worship. To join our voices with the apostles two thousand years ago, singing the one song that by the power of the Spirit still resonates today.

The Thrill of Orthodoxy, pages 8-9

I sometimes hear people say that there really is no such thing as orthodoxy. In fact at times people will go so far to say that making the claim of orthodoxy is really just a way for people in power to oppress others. Trevin does a great job of dispelling such thinking by pointing us back to the creeds of the early church and of course back to the Word of God.

This book is for the student who is being told that the Bible is out dated and we need to be more progressive and enlightened in our thinking.

This book is for the pastor who is tempted to remove the hard edges of Scripture so that their message is more palatable to the masses.

This book is for the person who finds themselves beginning to get bored with the story of Scripture and are looking for something new.

This book is really for everyone because we are all breathing in the toxic fumes of a culture that tells us that we alone can define what truth is for us.

100% I believe everyone, young and old, should read this book. It will deepen your love for God and for his Word and I also believe it will cause you to see the story of Scripture with a renewed sense of awe.