Sermon: More Caught than Taught

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermon presented in Spanish at El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, June 21, 2018. (Sermón: Más Atrapado Que Enseñado)

Prelude

Good evening. For those who do not know me, my name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a volunteer pastor and Christian author. My wife, Maryam, and I live in Centreville, Virginia and we have three grown children.

Today we continue our study about co-workers in evangelism. We are blessed to be a blessing to others. And Christians we know that we can best bless others when we share the Gospel through our daily lives.

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Almighty Father:

We praise you for creating us in your image and love us as your children. Be especially present with us in this time and place. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bless our praise and send your Holy Spirit ahead of us as we extend your light in the Georgetown South Community. In the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Scripture

Today’s scripture lesson comes from the Book of Genesis 12:1-3. Hear the word of the Lord:

“Now the LORD said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3 ESV)

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Introduction

Which of you have had mysterious problems with your computer or, perhaps, your telephone?

This past week as I was writing this sermon, my system began, without any input on my part, to use a different keyboard, the international standard, ISO, when in the USA the ANSI standard is normally used. After three or four hours of research, I could not correct the problem. It is difficult to change the default configuration of this system because at this point I am not an expert in this field.

Because we have complex personalities, we also have default configurations. (2X) It is difficult to change them, even when we do not want to accept our default configurations. Our default configurations consist of our daily habits and hopefully of our Sunday habits (Smith).

In the writing of the Apostle Paul, this is the difference between the new person in Christ and the old person of the fleshly nature. (2 Cor 5:17) Our default configuration is exactly the same concept as Paul’s old person of nature. This was the source of much pain for Paul, as he wrote: Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Rom 7:20 ESV) But, our hope arise because we were created in the image of God and want to become like God in Jesus Christ, our role model.

Today’s Scripture

We are blessed to bless others (2X, McDonald)

We discover this concept of blessings in the covenant of Abram and God in Genesis 12:1-3. This covenant is interesting because Abram needed to leave his family, his tribe, and his country—all the sources of security—at a time when the world was very dangerous. And for the most part, Abram never experienced the promises of God during his life. (2X) He traveled around the Promised Land, observed it, and was buried there. It is like being promised a barbecue to receive only the sweet aroma of it. Yet, “he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6 ESV) We receive the same promises of God through Abram and we need to bless others, exactly the same as Abram.

How do we know this? We know it because we are created in the image o God and Christ has told us: As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (2X; John 20:21 ESV)

We are blessed to bless others (2X)

More Observations

For many years it has been said that Christianity is more caught than taught (2X). At lease three stories make this point.

The first story concerns the first letter of Peter, where the most famously quoted verse is: always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15 ESV) The thing is that the rest of the book focuses on lifestyle evangelism, as it says.

“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Pet 2:12 ESV)

Works like hospitality speak directly to the heart without words. As you know, works speak louder than words alone. (2X)

The second story arose in the fourth century when we see that Saint Patrick was famous as the first successful evangelist in Ireland. His success was not anticipated because Patrick, as a teenager sixteen year old, was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. For the next six years he worked as a slave caring for his master’s cattle in the Irish wilderness. Later, he escaped and traveled to France to study to become a priest. Much later, he returned to Ireland as Bishop and evangelized the Irish out of love for them. His love of the Irish was obvious and his evangelism focused on offering hospitality. In the end, Patrick and his companions planted more than 700 churches in Ireland (Hunter).

The third story is more recent. In the city of Rio de Janeiro  there are many young people caught up in the gangs of the drug culture. In Brazil they call young people with mixed blood (blacks and Indians) as the “killable people.” Many of them die from the violence, but those that survive and are incarcerated by the police don’t have much hope. In the jails, the police do not feed them or offer medical care. For the most part, the gangs control daily life in the prisons. In this hellish world, there are few visitors, not even Christians, but those that come are mostly Pentecostals who provide food, medicine, and worship services. As a consequence, the gangs respect the Pentevcostals, providing security for their services and allowing young people who really come to Christ to leave the gangs (2X; Johnson)—the only option other than a body bag.

As we have seen, hospitality can be more than just food. In these stories, it can be a faith journey.

Summary

Finally, we are blessed to be a blessing to others. Because our blessing is Christ Jesus, when we share the evangelism in our daily life, we bless others most effectively. After all, the Gospel is more caught than taught.

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Holy Father,

Thank you for your forgiveness and your presence in our daily lives. In the power of your Holy Spirit, grant us strength for life and the wisdom to share your living Gospel. In the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

References

Hunter, George G. III. 2000. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Johnson, Andrew. 2017. If I Give My Soul: Faith Behind Bars in Rio de Janeiro. New York: Oxford. (Review)

Suzanne McDonald. 2010. Re-Imaging Election: Divine Election as Representing God to Others & Others to God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Review)

Smith, James K. A. 2016. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press. (review part 1;  part 2 ).

Sermon: More Caught than Taught

Also see:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to connect:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Cuneo Examines Exorcism, Part 1

Michael Cuneo, American ExorcismMichael W. Cuneo. 2001. American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty. New York: DoubleDay.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The Exorcist, a 1973 film by William Peter Blatty and directed by William Friedkin,[1] came out during my freshman year in college and I saw it by myself about a year later. I remember the profanity, the projectile vomitting, the crawling around on the ceiling, and the two priests sprinkling holy water and offering incantations. I also remember the ending and the staircase in Georgetown, which still gives me the creeps every time I drive down Canal Road. After the film, I shook with fear all night—I still do not enjoy going to the theater alone.

Introduction

In his book, American Exorcism, Michael Cuneo writes:

“American Exorcism is based on my personal interviews with exorcists and their clients, and my firsthand observation of more than fifty exorcisms…My primary concern is with exorcism as it’s practiced among mainstream, predominantly middle-class Christians—the white-bread sector of American society…I am concerned simply with assessing the cultural significance of exorcism-related beliefs and practices in the contemporary United States, not with passing judgment on their ultimate validity.” (xiv)

Cuneo teaches sociology and anthropology at Fordham University, a Jesuit college in New York.

The Backstory on The Exorcist

Cuneo begins his research on exorcism by summarizing the backstory on Blatty’s film. The exorcism recounted in the film took place, reported in a Washington Post article in August 1949 (Brinkely)  and involved an unidentified, fourteen-year-old boy from Mount Rainer tormented by bizarre phenomena:

“There were scratchings and rappings on his bedroom walls, pieces of fruit and other objects were sent flying in his presence, and his bed mysteriously gyrated across the floor while he tried to sleep.” (5-6)

The parents took the boy to a Protestant minister, but as things worsened they brought him to the Jesuits who had him medically and psychologically evaluated and placed under around-the-clock observation. After no natural causes found, a Jesuit priest was assigned who performed more than twenty exorcisms in Washington and St. Louis. In all but the last of these, the WP reported:

“The boy broke into a violent tantrum of screaming, cursing, and voicing of Latin phrase—a language he had never studied—whenever the priest reached those climatic points of the 27-page [exorcism] ritual in which he commanded the demon to depart.” (6)

After a two-month ordeal, the symptoms disappeared and the boy’s health returned. (5-6) Blatty later sought instruction on the Catholic church’s teaching with respect to demons and tracked down a diary kept by the priest who assisted in these exorcisms, which became background for his film. (6-7)

The film itself raised awareness of the practice of exorcism within the Catholic church and, according to Cuneo, portrayed the priest in a new light as the hero-priest, who placed his own life on the line to rescue those trapped under the influence of Satan. After the reforms under the Second Vatican Council, the priesthood itself badly needed the status upgrade that exorcism provided. (4-5)

Organization

Cuneo writes in sixteen chapters, preceded by acknowledgments and an introduction and followed by conclusions, notes, and an index. These chapters are further divided into these six parts:

  1. The Exorcist as Hero
  2. Entrepreneurs of Exorcism
  3. Charismatic Deliverance Ministry
  4. The Rough-and-Ready School
  5. The Rise of Evangelical Deliverance
  6. Roman Catholic Exorcism (vii-viii)

What is interesting here is that Cuneo explores a wide-range of exorcism practices across different denominations and faith groups.To my knowledge, no one else has written this kind of comprehensive overview of exorcism practices in America through literature review, case studies, interviews, and eye-witness reporting of exorcisms.

Assessment

In part one of this review, I present an overview of Cuneo’s book. In part two, I will examine key issues that he raises about the practice of exorcism.

Michael Cuneo’s American Exorcism is a fascinating read. His story telling, literature review, and personal interviews surpass anything that I have read about exorcism practices. The more typical author writing in this genre focuses on their own methods and experiences, which leaves the reader wondering whether the author’s work is typical, reliable, authoritative. Practitioners may find helpful advice owning to the wide scope of Cuneo’s work. In any case, Cuneo writes from the perspective of a skeptical Jesuit with a background in sociology. And that’s okay.

References

Blatty, William Peter. 1974. William Peter Blatty on ‘The Exorcist’ from Novel to Film. New York: Bantam Books.

Brinkley, Bill. 1949. “Priest Frees Mt. Rainers Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip.” Washington Post, August 20. (Cited in Blatty 1974).

Footnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exorcist_(film).

Cuneo Examines Exorcism, Part 1

Also see:

A Place for Authoritative Prayer

Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Vanhoozer: How Do We Understand the Bible? Part 1 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Sermón: Más Atrapado Que Enseñado

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermón presentó por El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, 21 de junio, 2018.

Preludio

Buenos tardes. Para aquellos que no me conocen, me llama Stephen W. Hiemstra. Soy pastor voluntario y autor cristiano. Mi esposa, Maryam, y yo vivimos in Centreville, Virginia y tenemos tres hijos crecidos.

Hoy día continuamos nuestro estudio sobre colaboradores en el evangelio. Somos bendecido para bendice los demás. Y como cristianos sabemos que bendecimos los demás lo más mayor cuando compartimos el evangelio por medio de nuestras vidas de cada día.

Oración

Vamos a orar.

Padre Todopoderoso,

Alabamos que creaste nos en tu imagen y ama nos como tus niños. Sea especialmente presente con nosotros en este tiempo y este lugar. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, bendice nuestra alabanza y manda tu Espíritu Santo a ir antes nuestros esfuerzos a extender tu luz aquí en el pueblo Georgetown South. En el precioso nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Escritura

El texto de hoy viene del libro de Génesis 12:1-3. Escuchan a la palabra de Dios.

El SEÑOR le dijo a Abram: «Deja tu tierra, tus parientes y la casa de tu padre, y vete a la tierra que te mostraré. Haré de ti una nación grande, y te bendeciré; haré famoso tu nombre, y serás una bendición. Bendeciré a los que te bendigan y maldeciré a los que te maldigan; ¡por medio de ti serán bendecidas todas las familias de la tierra!» (Gen 12:1-3 NVI)

La palabra del Señor. Gracias a Dios.

Introducción

¿Quien de ustedes han tenido problemas misteriosos por tu computador o, tal vez, tu teléfono?

Esta semana pasada cuando empiece a escribir este sermón, mi sistema comenzó, sin cualquiera entrada de mi, a usar un teclado diferente, la estándar internacional, ISO, cuando en USA normalmente se use ANSI estándar. Después tres o cuatro horas de investigaciones, no pude corregir este problema. Es muy difícil a cambiar la configuración predeterminada de este sistema por causa que en este tiempo ya no soy experto en este campo.

Como personas muy complexo, tenemos también configuraciones predeterminadas. (2X) Por que es difícil a cambiarlos, aun cuando no queremos aceptar nuestras configuraciones. Tus configuraciones predeterminadas consisten de sus habitudes de cada día y ojalá de cada domingo (Smith).

En el escrito del Apóstalo Pablo, este es la diferencia entre la nueva persona en Cristo y la vieja persona de la naturaleza (2 Cor 5:17). Nuestras configuraciones predeterminadas son exactamente este mismo concepto de la vieja persona de la naturaleza de Pablo. Por que este fue un causo de mucha pena en la vida de él. Pablo escritó: Y si hago lo que no quiero, ya no soy yo quien lo hace sino el pecado que habita en mí.” (Rom 7:20) Pero, nuestra esperanza viene por que fuimos crecido en la imagen de Dios y querremos estar como Dios en Cristo, nuestro modelo.

Escritura de Hoy

Somos bendecido a bendice los demás. (2X, McDonald)

Encontramos este concepto de bendiciones en el pacto entre Abram y Dios. Esto es interesante por que Abram necesitaba salir su familia, su tribu, y su país—todas las fuentes de seguridad—a un tiempo cuando el mundo allí fue muy peligroso. Y por lo mayor parte, Abram nunca experienció las promesas de Dios durante su vida. (2X) El viajaba rededor la Tierra Prometida, vi lo, y fue enterrado allí. Es como estar prometido una barbacuá para recibir sólo el dulce aroma de la misma. Pero, “Abram creyó al SEÑOR, y el SEÑOR lo reconoció a él como justo.” (Gen 15:6) Recibimos las mismas promesas de Dios por media de Abram y también necesitamos bendecir los demás, exacto como Abram.

¿Para que sabemos esto? Por que fuimos creado en la imagen de Dios y Cristo nos dijó: “Como el Padre me envió a mí, así yo los envío a ustedes.” (2X; Juan 20:21)

Somos bendecido a bendice los demás. (2X)

Más Observaciones

Durante muchos anos se observe que el cristianismo es más atrapado que enseñado. (2X) Al menos que tres historias muestran este principio.

La primera historia aparece en el premier libro de Pedro, donde lo más famoso versículo es:“Estén siempre preparados para responder a todo el que les pida razón de la esperanza que hay en ustedes.”  (1 Pet 3:15) Pero todo el libro enfoque en el viviendo evangelio, como se dice:

“Mantengan entre los incrédulos una conducta tan ejemplar que, aunque los acusen de hacer el mal, ellos observen las buenas obras de ustedes y glorifiquen a Dios en el día de la salvación.”(1 Pet 2:12)

Obras como hospitalidad habla directamente al corazón sin palabras. Como sabemos, obras hablan más fuerte que palabras. (2X) La secunda historia surgió en el siglo cuatro cuando vimos que San Patricio fue famoso como el primer evangelista exitoso en Irlanda. Su éxito no fue anticipado porque Patricio como joven de dieciséis años fue secuestrado por piratas irlandeses por su hogar en Britania y fue vendido como esclavo en Irlanda. Por seis años trabajó como esclavo en el campo cuidando bovinos para su maestre. Después, el escapo y fui a Francia para estudiar a ser sacerdote. Más tarde, regresó a Irlanda como bispo y evangelió los irlandeses por su amor de ellos. Su amor para la gente irlandeses fue obvio y su evangelismo enfoqué por la hospitalidad. Por fin, San Patricio y sus compañeros plantaron más que siete cien iglesias en Irlanda (Hunter).

La tercera historia es más reciente. En la cuidad de Rio de Janeiro hay muchos jóvenes que toda su vida es atrapado en la cultura de pandillas de drogas. En Brasil se llamada estos jóvenes de sangre mezclas como seres matáves(o seres sacrificable). Muchos de estos jóvenes muertan por causa de la violencia asociada de ellas, pero los jóvenes que sobrevivir y están encarcelados por las policías tampoco no tenían muchas esperanzas. En las encarcelados las policías no proveer alimentos, tampoco cuidado medicales y por lo mayor tienen las pandillas control de la vida cotidiarias entre los encarcelados. En este mundo de infierno se encuentran pocos visitantes. Por lo mayor de los cristianos son pentecostales que proveer alimentos, medicinas, y servicios de alabanza. Allí, las pandillas respeto los pentecostales, proveer seguridad para sus servicios y permitan los jóvenes que realmente llegan a cristo a dejar las pandillas (2X)—lo único otra opción para dejar las pandillas es muerte. (Johnson)

Como nos hemos visto, hospitalidad pueda ser más que unos alimentos. En tal maniera, pueda estar un camino a Dios.(2X)

Resumen

Por última, somos bendecido a bendice los demás. Por que nuestra bendición es Cristo, cuando nosotros compartimos el evangelio entre nuestras vidas de cada día bendecimos los demás más efectivo. Por que el evangelio es más atrapado que enseñado.

Oración

Oramos.

Padre santo,

Gracias por tu perdón y por tu presencia en nuestras vidas cotidiaria. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, darnos esfuerzo para la vida y la sabiduría a compartir tu viviendo evangelio. En el preciso nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.

Referencias

Hunter, George G. III. 2000. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Johnson, Andrew. 2017. If I Give My Soul: Faith Behind Bars in Rio de Janeiro. New York: Oxford. (Review)

Suzanne McDonald. 2010. Re-Imaging Election: Divine Election as Representing God to Others & Others to God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. (Review)

Smith, James K. A. 2016. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press. (review part 1;  part 2 ).

Sermón: Más Atrapado Que Enseñado

Vea también:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Otras maneras de conectar:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Monday Monologues: The Person of Jesus, June 18, 2018 (podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I share a Prayer for the Co-Dependent and a reflection on the Person of Jesus.

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

Monday Monologues: The Person of Jesus, June 18, 2018 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Sponsor the Marketing for Writers Conference, September 9, 2018, Fairfax, Virgina

CCW NVCWF Vendor Banner 06142018
Be a Sponsor!

Capital Christian Writers and the Northern Virginia Christian Writers Fellowship have teamed up in 2018 to host a new conference: Marketing for Writers.

 
Advertise your writing and publishing products and services in our vendor brochure or, for more exposure, sponsor a break or lunch.
 
For more information about vendor options see: (click here)
 
Register to attend our conference at (click here)
www.CapitalChristianWriters.org
www.NovaChristianWriters.org

Sponsor the Marketing for Writers Conference, September 9, 2018, Fairfax, Virgina

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Prayer for the Co-Dependent

Frank and Gertrude Hiemstra, GraveBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Loving Father:

We praise you for the many blessings of this life: for family, good health, and your provisions.

For we know that they are gifts that are given to some and withheld from many.

We confess that we are unworthy of your generosity and do not always act like your children, harboring unclean thoughts and acting out of unsavory motivations.

Yet, we thank you for remembering us in our fallen state and raising us from death to life in Jesus Christ by the power of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for our freedom to live in the love of Christ.

Remember also those that are unable or unwilling to live in your light. Turn their hearts through the power of  your Holy Spirit and grant them the strength to accept your mercy. Let them not live in fear depending on the strength of others, but grant them legs to stand on that they might be whole again.

In the strong name of Jesus Christ who died on the cross and was raised from the dead, we come against any family curses and cast out any lingering spirits of fear, abuse, guilt, shame, addiction, condemnation, territory, or disease. We bind the spirit of the child and cast it at the feet of Jesus to remain forever bound. We ask the Holy Spirit to enter this person’s heart and bind them to Christ Jesus, now and always.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for the Co-Dependent

Also see:

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

 

Continue Reading

The Person of Jesus

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Simple FaithBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

No description of God would be complete without an understanding of the role of Jesus Christ that starts with God’s transcendent nature. God’s transcendence arises because he created the known universe as revealed in the Genesis creation account:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1)

As creator, God had to exist before the universe that he created and he had to have been set apart from it. Time, as we know it, is part of the created universe. Consequently, God stands outside of time and space. Because we exist inside time and space, we cannot approach God on our own. He has to reveal himself to us. Likewise, we cannot approach a Holy God, because we are sinful beings, not Holy beings. Our sin separates from a Holy God and motivates our confession when we ask God to draw us to himself.

Thus, we cannot approach God on our own because he transcends time and space and because he is holy. Only God can initiate connection with unholy, created beings such as we are. No path reaches up the mountain to God; God must come down. As Christians, we believe that God came down in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, whose coming was prophesied from the earliest days of scripture. 

For example, the Prophet Job wrote: 

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”  (Job 19:25-27)

The Book of Job is thought by some to have been written by Moses before any other book in the Bible and before he returned to Egypt, which makes the anticipation of a redeemer all the more stunning. Moses himself lived about 1,500 years before Christ.

Who then is this transcendent God that loves us enough to initiate connection with us in spite of our sin?

Later, after giving Moses the Ten Commandments for a second time on Mount Sinai, God reveals himself to Moses with these words:

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exod 34:6)

Notice that God describes himself first as merciful. As Christians, we believe that God love is shown to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because God himself has provided the ultimate sacrifice of his son on the cross, Christians do not need to offer animal sacrifices—in Christ, our debt to God for sin has already been paid. This is real mercy, real love.

Listen now to the confession given by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”  (1 Cor 15:3-5)

Jesus, as the perfect son of God, is the bridge that God has given us to connect with himself through the Holy Spirit, as Peter said on the Day of Pentecost:

“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to pray to God with the assurance that we will be heard; we are able to read the Bible with the confidence that God will speak to us; and we are able to live our daily lives knowing that God walks with us each step of the way. In this way, as Christians we are always connected with God in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is accordingly the story of Jesus in the context of Old Testament prophecy and how through him God came down from outside time and space to dwell in our hearts.

The Person of Jesus

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Tebow Encourages Those Shaken

Tim Tebow, ShakenTim Tebow[1]with A.J. Gregory. 2018. Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms. New York: Waterbrook.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Life can be a pill. The darkest twelve months of my life arose during 1992/93 when I experienced a layoff, my son was born with one kidney that quickly became blocked, and my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. My wife and I came through these events with the support of our church. In the midst of stress that tore apart other families that we know, I turned to God and later responded to a call to ministry.[2]Stress has a way of clarifying priorities.

Introduction

In his spiritual memoir, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms, Tim Tebow writes:

“It’s tempting to define ourselves or measure our with by the external: by how much money we have, by how we look, by the applause of others. The list is long. It’s also tempting to determine our identity by our life circumstances…My identity is tied into whose I am.”(4)

The book’s title is taken from Psalm 16:8—I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

Who is Tim Tebow?

Tebow is not only a Christian; he is the son of missionaries, born in Manilla, Philippines (1987). Tebow currently plays professional baseball with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies,[3]but is also a former NFL quarterback (Broncos, Jets, Patriots) and Heisman trophy winner (2007). It is probably safe to say that he is most proud of his charitable work with the Tim Tebow Foundation that reaches out to encourage children with life-threatening issues.

Because I do not follow sports, Tebow is one of the few living football players that I know by name and it is because of his willingness to pray publicly during athletic competition. As a consequence of the publicity that is associated with his open prayer, Google defines the word, Tebowing, “as the act of getting down on one knee to pray, regardless of what others around you are doing.”I suspect that no other living 30-year old has contributed a new word to the dictionary in this manner.

Organization

Tebow writes in ten chapters proceeded by an introduction and followed by acknowledgments and notes. The chapters are:

  1. Cut
  2. Who Am I?
  3. Facing the Giants
  4. The Voices of Negativity
  5. God’s Got It
  6. The Others
  7. Who Said Normal is the Goal?
  8. Stand Up
  9. The Power of Doing Something
  10. What Matters Most(vii)

This is a book about encouragement and it starts by walking the reader through some of Tebow’s darkest days, when he lost his status as a professional quarterback in the NFL. These dark days framed his title: shaken.

Encouragement

Tebow summarizes:

“While this book doesn’t offer cookie-cutter answers or a concrete plan about what to do when you stand on shaky ground, it does offer you truth. One thing can change every: knowing who you are in God can give you purpose and reshape your destiny in incredible ways.”(6)

An old saw that pastors use sounds very similar: “I do not know a solution to your problem, but I know someone who does.” Spiritual advisors likewise specialize in pointing out God’s work in your life, something that is frequently not obvious when one is in pain or when we are not paying attention.

An example of God’s quiet work showed up when the world started to notice Tebow’s faith when he began using his eye-black to display Bible verses at University of Florida. He started with Philippians 4:13—“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” During the National Championship game in 2009, Tebow changed his eye-black to read, John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”Ninety-four million people Googled the verse during the course of the game. Three years later after the NFL passed a rule forbidding personalized eye-black messages, the Broncos public-relations guy reported:

“Do you know that it was exactly three years since you wrote’ John 3:16’? And during this game, you threw for 316 yards. Your yards per completion were 31.6. The time of possession was 31:06. The ratings for the night were 31.6 million. And during the game ninety million Googled ‘John 3:16’!”(154-156)

Do you think God noticed? For his part, Tebow focused on winning the game that night.

Assessment

Tim Tebow’s Shaken is an encouraging book. He tells lots of stories about his own experiences, particularly from his sport’s career, and relates them directly to his faith, which is why I would describe the book as a spiritual memoir. I read this book as part of a men’s group discussion and the accompanying videos have been most helpful in generating discussion.

Footnotes

[1]www.TimTebowFoundation.org. @TimTebow. @TebowFoundation.

[2]For those interested, I wrote about these events in my memoir, Called Along the Way(Centreville, VA: T2Pneuma Publishers LLC, 2017).

[3]“Tim Tebow Is Kinda Good at Baseball: The ex-football star keeps plugging away in the minor leagues on the idea that he can one day get to the majors.” By Matthew Gutierrez, Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2018 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/tim-tebow-is-kinda-good-at-baseball-1526932242).

Tebow Encourages Those Shaken

Also see:

Jackson Shines Light on Football Dreams

Wicks Seeks Availability Deepens Faith

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Monday Monologue: Idolatry, June 11, 2018 (Podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I share a Prayer for the Innocent and a reflection on Image Theology and Idolatry.

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions). #podcasting

Monday Monologues: Idolatry, June 11, 2018 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Prayer for the Innocent

Red RosesBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Merciful father,

Have mercy on innocent young people

who are being gunned down daily in our schools.

Banish the images of horror; of bodies bloodied;

of students running with their hands in the air;

and of stories of what might have been.

Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.

Cast us me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from us. (Ps 51:10-11)

Let us not bend our hearts with electronic fantasies of power

or hide ourselves from those around us.

But in the power of your Holy Spirit,

Be Thou our vision, O Lord of our hearts;
Naught be all else to us, save that Thou art;
Thou our best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence our light.[1]
In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

[1] https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/ns/345

Prayer for the Innocent

Also see:

Tennant Highlights Five Gifts

Giving Thanks 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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