Holy Spirit: Monday Monologues (podcast) March 1, 2021

Stephen_W_Hiemstra_20200125b
Ken Burtram Photography

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on the Holy Spirit. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Holy Spirit: Monday Monologues (podcast) March 1, 2021

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.

Continue Reading

Prayer Day 15

Available on Amazon.com

 By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father, Beloved Son, Holy Spirit.

We praise you for creating and re-creating our world.

Bless the church with the Holy Spirit’s continuing presence and spiritual gifts that we may minister with power and grace to a fallen world.

And in all circumstances grant us peace.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer Day 15

Also see:

Believer’s Prayer

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

Continue Reading

The Holy Spirit

Cover, A Christian Guide to Spirituality

“I believe in the Holy Spirit.”Ω

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

The Holy Spirit, sometimes called the Holy Ghost, is the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit goes by a number of names and descriptions in scripture including: Spirit of the Lord (Judg 3:10), Spirit of God (Matt 3:16), the Helper or Comforter (John 14:16), Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), Spirit of Life (Rom 8:2), God of Endurance and Encouragement (Rom 15:5), Spirit of the Living God (2 Cor 3:3), Spirit of Wisdom (Eph 1:17), Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:19), Eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14), Spirit of Glory (1 Pet 4:14), and Spirit of Prophecy (Rev 19:10).

The wide range of titles suggests that the Holy Spirit plays a wide range of roles and suggests a God of power who is anxious to confer many different spiritual gifts. The Apostle Paul writes:

no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. (1 Cor 12:3-6)

By empowering spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit makes Christian unity possible because these gifts make the Christian life, community, and mission service possible.

The Holy Spirit sometimes makes avian (or bird like) appearances. In creation, for example, we witness that: “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Gen 1:2) The word for hovering here in the Hebrew later describes an eagle (Deut 32:11). In all four Gospels, the Holy Spirit descends in baptism on Jesus like a dove—a fitting symbol of God’s peace (Matt 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, and John 1:32). For this reason, the Holy Spirit is often associated with the sacrament of baptism.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit saying: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)  The Greek word for helper here transliterates as the Paraclete, which also means advocate, intercessor, and mediator (BDAG, 5591). The verbal form of Paraclete also means to comfort, to encourage, to console, and to exhort (BDAG, 5590). John 14:26 equates the Paraclete to the Holy Spirit. Although we frequently think of the Holy Spirit in highly personal terms, the supreme act of the Holy Spirit began at Pentecost in the founding of the church. We read: 

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:2-4)

The word for Holy Spirit in both Hebrew and Greek means both spirit and wind. The church’s evangelism and service illustrate the Holy Spirit’s continuing provision for reaching the world.

 References

Bauer, Walter (BDAG). 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Ed. Frederick W. Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. <BibleWorks. v.9.>.

The Holy Spirit

Also see:

Preface to A Christian Guide to Spirituality

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Purchase Book: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

Continue Reading

Persecution Can Be Transformative

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101

And Saul approved of his [Stephen’s] execution. 

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and 

they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, 

except the apostles. (Acts 8:1)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In my grandparents’ home, every meal began with prayer and ended with a scripture reading. One time in college when I visited, I read the story of Stephen: “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.“ (Acts 6:13-14) Stephen offered no defense, but rather he accused the Jews of false worship and not keeping the law (Acts 7:48, 53). Then, he reminded them of Jesus’ words during his trial: “But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt 26:64) Here Jesus paraphrased Daniel 7:13 in a clear claim of divinity. This claim drove the Sanhedrin crazy and in a fit of rage they stoned Stephen, an act illegal under Roman law (John 18:31).

After the execution of Stephen, the Book of Acts introduces Saul (Acts 7:58) who, not only approved of Stephen’s stoning, but led the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem that followed, ravaging the church (Acts 8:1–3). The word, ravage, suggests a self-destructive manner, as in the proverb: “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” (Prov 19:3) This manner of persecution confirms Saul’s own testimony that he was a zealous persecutor (Acts 8:1; Phil 3:6).

In leading the persecution of the church, Saul assists in scattering the Jerusalem disciples to both the regions of Judea and Samaria. This fulfilled the first two parts of the commission of Christ in Acts 1:8 and he was aided by disciples who shared the Gospel as they fled Jerusalem (Acts 8:4). Thus, even at his worst Saul acts as an unwilling, unknowing instrument of the Holy Spirit as he accomplishes Jesus’ charge in Acts 1.8, cited earlier.

When Saul sets out to oppose the third part of Christ’s commission in the scattering by going to Damascus, however, the risen Christ intervenes, preventing him from further self-destruction, saying: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). To this question, Saul responds: “Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9:5–6) This is in stark contrast with the response of Judas Iscariot who commits suicide (Matt 27:5). Even before he was even aware, the Apostle Paul, formerly Saul, served God’s purposes even in persecuting the church and, in doing so, was driven painfully towards his own conversion and call (Acts 9:15-16).

Persecution often traumatizes us, leaving deeper wounds than most other things. On an individual level, this trauma can lead to lifelong emotional and psychiatric issues, and, if we then turn into our pain and away from God, can be intensified by spiritual confusion. On a communal level, persecution can be followed by a cycle of revenge between warring communities. At either level, those persecuted and those persecuting are bound in an indelible, negative bond that is not easily broken.

Forgiveness breaks the bond created by abuse and persecution, and makes room for God’s Holy Spirit to work in our lives (Rom 12:19). Stephen died praying to God for the forgiveness of his persecutors: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60), paraphrasing Christ’s own words from the cross (Luke 23:34). As one of those persecutors, Paul never forgot Stephen and mentioned him as he recounted his own conversion before the Sanhedrin. Was Paul’s conversion God’s answer to Stephen’s prayer? (Acts 22:20).

Another important consequence of the Jerusalem persecution was that the Holy Spirit worked to establish the first gentile church in Antioch, as we read:

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19–21)

The key word in the Greek is scattered, which only appears one other place in Acts 8:4: “Now those who were scattered [by Saul’s persecution] went about preaching the word.” The word, scattered, infers an action of the  wind and the word for wind in the Greek is pneuma, which also translates as Holy Spirit. The inference is that the Holy Spirit established the church at Antioch in response to persecution (Acts 11:22).

Because the apostles remained in Jerusalem at this point, the Holy Spirit used ordinary disciples, whose names remain unknown, to establish the Antioch Church and churches throughout “all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) It is much like God has used Pentecostal evangelists in our own time to reach much of the known world (IBMR 2015, 29).  much like God has used Pentecostal evangelists in our own time to reach much of the known world (IBMR 2015, 29). And in many places around the world, persecution remains ever present.

Persecution Can Be Transformative

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

 

Continue Reading

MacNutt Prays for Healing

MacNutt_review_20200515Francis MacNutt.  2009.  Healing (Orig Pub 1974).  Notre Dame:  Ave Maria Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Chess. On the chessboard of life, what piece are you; what piece is Christ Jesus?

If you are Christian, our creator God is the crafter of the chess pieces; not one of them.  Still, when we pray, God is often assigned the role of a pawn in our lives.

For example, I have a neighbor who thinks of prayer as nothing more than happy thoughts that bounce off the ceiling.  In a world where people talk about prayer as nothing more than happy thoughts, what is authentic Christian prayer?

Francis MacNutt, in his book—Healing, observes that:  most traditional [Christians] have little difficulty in believing in divine healing.  What was difficult to believe that healing could be an ordinary, common activity of Christian life (10).  Citing Matthew 10: 7-8 [1] and a talk by Alfred Price in 1960, MacNutt observes:  if the church still claimed Christ’s commission to preach, what happened to the second commission to heal and cast out demons? (9)  In his own experience with healing prayer, about half of those he prayed for with physical ailments experienced healing or substantial improvements and three-quarters of those prayed for with emotional or spiritual problems experienced healing (11).

What is your experience with healing prayer?

Francis MacNutt is a Dominican priest, a leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and founder of Christian Healing Ministries[2].  He studied at Harvard University and Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and holds a doctor of philosophy degree in theology [3].  His book divides into four parts which are preceded by a preface and followed by appendices and an epilogue.  The four parts are entitled:

  1. The Healing Ministry—Its underlying Meaning and Importance;
  2. Faith, Hope, and Charity as They Touch Upon the Healing Ministry;
  3. The Four Basic Kinds of Healing and How to Pray for Each; and
  4. Special Considerations.

Although I often skip appendices and epilogues in my own reading, here it would be a mistake.

The epilogue includes the fascinating testimony of a Lakota (Sioux) Indian who attended a healing service in South Dakota and experienced miraculous healing of a mouth full of cavities (264-266).  As I read this story on a Saturday, I was experiencing an extreme toothache (I had trouble eating because of the pain); needed medication just to finish the reading; and I had already made a dentist appointment for Monday morning.  However, the story induced me to pray to God about my tooth—something that I had never done before.  Before Monday morning the pain was gone and my dentist found no evidence of an infection.  Meanwhile, the arthritis in my right foot that normally bothered me was mysteriously absent.

In talking about healing ministry, MacNutt cites 5 basic arguments why prayer cannot lead to healing:

  1. We want nothing to do with faith healing—faith healers are religious quacks (32-33).
  2. My sickness is a cross sent from God—as if God wanted you to suffer (33-34).
  3. It takes a saint to work a miracle and I am no saint—asking for healing is a sign of excessive pride (34-35).
  4. We do not need signs and wonders anymore; we have faith—the apostolic era is over (35).
  5. Miracles do not take place; they only represent a primitive way of expressing reality—a pre-scientific explanation (36).

MacNutt’s review of these arguments against the possibility of healing is helpful in establishing a balanced conversation—especially if you have witnessed the healing power of prayer first hand.

Prayer for healing needs to be specific in MacNutt’s experience.  As such, he list 4 types of healing needs (130), including prayer for:

  1. Repentance of sin (spiritual healing).
  2. Emotional (or relational) healing.
  3. Physical healing. And
  4. Deliverance (healing from spiritual oppression).

Distinguishing the different types of healing needs is important because many charismatic writers lump all healing needs into deliverance prayer.

The Apostle Paul writes:  the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26 ESV).  The Holy Spirit is the conduit between us and the Triune God in prayer.  Healing prayer is accordingly the work of the Holy Spirit and an important sign of God’s sovereignty at work in our lives.

One of the signs of God’s answer to healing prayer is that more healing is offered than is asked for—this is God’s abundant grace overflowing into our lives [4].  My healed toothache is not unique.  Although I prayed about tooth pain, I experienced healing both in teeth and feet—a sign of God’s abundant grace.

Reading Francis MacNutt’s Healing helped expand my prayer life. Stepping out to pray for healing fully expecting God to intervene and heal is risky. Healing prayer assumes we truly believe that God exists, cares for us, and is powerful enough to intervene in our lives—things that I and most postmodern Christians struggle with.  MacNutt’s clinical writing style and systemic thinking makes him a credible writer and makes the book helpful in advising people about healing prayer.  I commend the book. I have gifted friends with this book for years.

Footnotes

[1]The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay (Matthew 10:5-8 ESV).

[2](www.christianhealingmin.org)

[3] After leaving the Dominicans, MacNutt received a special dispensation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_MacNutt.

[4] The Apostle John writes of recognizing the risen Christ through the miracles of abundance:  abundant wine (John 2), abundant loaves of bread (John 6), and abundant fish (John 21).

MacNutt Prays for Healin

Also see:

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: https://bit.ly/Ready_2020

 

Continue Reading

Tailwind Prayer

Albrecht Dürer, Ship of Fools, 1494

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sustaining Spirit,

Blessings and all homage are yours because you guide and protect us when everyone else fails and runs away. We praise you for the tailwinds that ease the strain of life and break up the recurring doldrums that suck the joy out of life.

We confess that we do not always  follow your example lifting the burdens from those around us who depend on our support.

Thank you for your sustaining and empowering presence when our strength fails and demons nip at our heals.

Grant us the strength to face each and every day with joy and the confidence that you are with us. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Tailwind Prayer

Also see:

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

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

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/MayBe_2019

Continue Reading

Tennant Highlights Five Gifts

Carolyn Tennant, Catch the Wind of the SpiritCarolyn Tennant. 2016. Catch the Wind of the Spirit: How the 5 Ministry Gifts Can Transform Your Church. Springfield: Vital Resources.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Statistical estimates show that Pentecostals (including Charismatics) are one of the fastest growing Christian groups. Their growth through evangelism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America swamps that of North American and Western European Christian groups that appear to be in decline.[1] While such statistics can explain what has happened, theology is required to explain why.

Introduction

In her book, Catch the Wind of the Spirit, Carolyn Tennant points in an interesting direction, writing:

“Catch the Wind of the Spirit grew out of the context of need and emanated from a deep study of Ephesians 4. After pondering the five ministry gifts for years, I’ve come to the conclusion that our emphasis has been all wrong. The vast majority of teaching on this has focused on church leadership. I’m firmly convinced, however, that God is focused upon the ministry currents that each person is supposed to oversee. He means for the whole church to get involved.” (5)

Currents Demonstrate God’s Power

Tennant focuses on “currents” as a concept in the electrical sense, where God himself provides the power that flows through believers to accomplish his will for our lives and the lives of those we come into contact with. The “currents” of evangelist, teacher, pastor, prophet, and apostle (6-7) are in view here and are certainly not titles of church leaders in the manner that she uses them. Clearly, Tennant’s focus on the work of the Holy Spirit, as suggested by her title, marks her as a Pentecostal.

Tennant cites an old Yiddish proverb: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” (16) She then begins her exposition with a curious analogy for being led by the spirit offered by the early Celtic church. Celtic monks would sail in coracles, small boats shaped like a walnut, taking neither a rudder not paddles, but allowing the wind to blow them where it may: “believing that God would take them where they were supposed to go to share the gospel.” (9) The idea of current is also analogous to flow of water as it, much like the wind, carries a coracle along.

Ephesians 4

The key verses in Tennant’s exegesis are:

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service…” (Eph 4:11-12 NAU) [2]

Tennant highlights the verb, gave, making the point that these currents inform the ministry of the entire church; they are not titles given to leaders set apart from the body of the church to undertaken these currents independent of the church (26-27).

Structure of the Book

Tennant structures the chapters of her book around five pairs of discussions. In each discussion, she first introduces a chapter on a current; then she follows that current with a discussion of the leadership role that focuses on that current. In the first pair, she writes about the “Powerful Wooing Current”, then discusses the role of an Evangelist. The second pair starts with the “Radical Forming Current” and is followed by a discussion of the Teacher. These five pairs therefore outline ten chapters with summary material before and after for a total of fourteen chapters.

Example of The Radical Forming Current

Because my own ministry focuses on teaching, Tennant fascinated me with her outline of sixteen different roles where teaching was the primary focus. They are: counselor, mentor, life coach, facilitator, luncheon discussion, training leaders, leading a new converts class, blogging, leading workshops, leading Sunday school, leading retreats, youth ministry, facilitating small groups, Bible quizzes, leading a men’s or women’s group, developing curriculum, and teaching seminary students (78-79). Tennant admits that her listing is incomplete, yet she shows that teaching goes beyond Sunday school. A lot of teaching takes place, for example, in a thoughtful sermon.

Assessment

Carolyn Tennant[3] is an adjunct professor at the Assembly of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri and professor emerita from North Central University in Minneapolis. Her doctorate is in Educational Administration and Supervision, University of Colorado at Boulder. Carolyn Tennant’s Catch the Wind of the Spirit highlights the work of the Holy Spirit. This is through the Christian church from a Pentecostal perspective based on an exegesis of Ephesians 4. Because the Pentecostal church has grown rapidly over the past century, we might be led to believe that it has done a better job of balancing the five gifts of the spirit than other Christian groups.

Footnotes

[1] Status of Global Christianity, 2017, in the Context of 1900–2050. Summary Data Abstracted from: Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo, eds. World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed October 2016), www.worldchristiandatabase.org.

[2] The underlying Greek manuscripts offer no punctuation, but scholars have offered their best guess and the English translation offers a second guess.

[3] https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolyn-tennant-58209452. @CaTennant

Tennant Highlights Five Gifts

Also see:

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/2zRkNMJ

Continue Reading

Prayer Day 2, A Christian Guide to Spirituality By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Available on Amazon.com
Available on Amazon.com

Heavenly Father:  We praise you for creating heaven and earth; for creating all that is, that was, and that is to come; for creating things seen and unseen.  We praise you for sharing yourself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth; our role model in life, redeemer in death, and hope for the future.  We praise you for the Holy Spirit, who is ever present with us; who sustains all things; who showers us with spiritual gifts.  Open our hearts; illumine our minds; strengthen our hands in your service.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Padre Celestial, te alabamos para creación de los cielos y de la tierra; para creación de todo que es, que fue, y que sera; para creación de las cosas visibles e invisibles. Te alabamos por compartir ti mismo en la persona de Jesús de Nazaret; nuestro modelo en la vida, redentor en el muerto, y la esperanza para el futuro. Te alabamos por el Espíritu Santo, quien está presente con nosotros que duchar nos con dones espirituales y sustentar todo las cosas. Abierta nuestras corazones, iluminar nuestros mentes, fortalecer nuestros manos en su servicio. En el nombre de Jesús, Amen.

Continue Reading

Prayer Day 1, A Christian Guide to Spirituality By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Available on Amazon.com
Available on Amazon.com

Almighty Father:  thank you for the person of Jesus of Nazareth; who lived as a role model for sinners; who died as a ransom for sin; and whose resurrection gives us the hope of salvation.  In the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire the words written and illumine the words read.  In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Padre Todopoderoso, gracias por la persona de Jesús de Nazaret, quien vivió como un modelo a seguir por los pecadores, quien murió como un rescate por los pecados y cuya resurrección da nos la esperanza de salvación. En el poder de Tu Espíritu Santo, inspire las palabras escritas y iluminar las palabras leídas, En el nombre de Jesús, Amen.

Continue Reading