Do you know the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field,” (Matthew 13:44). So what is it really about? Watch this!
A few years ago, Steven Musick suffered a severe allergic reaction to a swine flu vaccine. He believes that he was close to dying, and recalls an experience of meeting Jesus in heaven. “I was allergic to the swine flu vaccine that they were testing and I had a very violent, dramatic reaction,” Steven tells Faithwire.
Following another reaction to medication that was supposed to help him, Steven entered a deep coma. It was then that he said he met Jesus and was ushered into the heavenlies. “The most dramatic part for me of heaven itself was the sense of being inside pure joy,” Musick explained. “There’s nothing that I could tell you today that would give you an inking of what it’s like to be in that place.”
“It’s being absolutely held tight and yet totally free at the same time.”
Then, he described walking along with Jesus Christ. “Jesus was in his early 30s, long flowing brunette hair, hazel eyes, dark complexion,” he said. “He’s not overly large, but he’s massively built. You would think that he’s a weightlifter, a body builder.”
But Jesus wanted to send him back to earth at this time.
“When he said, ‘You can’t stay,’ I woke up in intensive care isolation … it was not my destiny to stay in heaven at that time,” he said. “The contrast between heaven and here is just so stark that it leaves you delusional.”
Sam Storms became the Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 2008. He is on the Board of Directors of both Desiring God and Bethlehem College & Seminary, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam was recently elected to be Vice-President of the Evangelical Theological Society.
Rarely does a Christian struggle to think of God as Father. And to envision God as Son is not a problem for many. These personal names come easily to us because our lives and relationships are inescapably intertwined with fathers and sons here on earth. But God as Holy Spirit is often a different matter. Gordon Fee tells of one of his students who remarked, “God the Father makes perfectly good sense to me, and God the Son I can quite understand; but the Holy Spirit is a gray, oblong blur.”
How different this is from what we actually read in Scripture. There we see that the Spirit is not third in rank in the Godhead but is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and Son, sharing with them all the glory and honor due unto our Triune God. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal power or an ethereal, abstract energy. The Spirit is personal in every sense of the term. He has a mind and thinks (Isa. 11:2; Rom. 8:27). He is capable of experiencing deep affections and feelings (Rom. 8:26; 15:30). The Spirit has a will and makes choices (Acts 16:7; 1 Cor. 2:11) regarding what is best for God’s people and what will most glorify the Son.
We see even more of the Spirit’s personality when he is described as being grieved when we sin (Eph. 4:30). The Spirit, no less so than the Father and the Son, enters into a vibrant and intimate relationship with all whom he indwells (2 Cor. 13:14). The Spirit talks (Mark 13:11; Rev. 2:7), testifies (John 15:26; 16:13), encourages (Acts 9:31), strengthens (Eph. 3:16), and teaches us, especially in times of spiritual emergency (Luke 12:12). That the Spirit is personal is seen in that he can be lied to (Acts 5:3), insulted (Heb. 10:29), and even blasphemed (Matt. 12:31-32).
Above all else, though, the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). His primary role in us, as the temple of God in whom he dwells (Eph. 2:21-22), is other-directed or other-oriented as he ministers to direct our attention to the person of Christ and to awaken in us heartfelt affection for and devotion to the Savior (John 14:26; 16:12-15). The Holy Spirit delights above all else in serving as a spotlight, standing behind us (although certainly dwelling within us) to focus our thoughts and meditation on the beauty of Christ and all that God is for us in and through him.
As we prayerfully meditate on the person and work of the Spirit and give thanks for his powerful presence in our lives, we would do well to consider the words of Thomas Torrance who reminds us that “the Spirit is not just something divine or something akin to God emanating from him, not some sort of action at a distance or some kind of gift detachable from himself, for in the Holy Spirit God acts directly upon us himself, and in giving us his Holy Spirit God gives us nothing less than himself” (Thomas F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith, T & T Clark, 191).
This article was written by Sam Storms and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.
The board meetings have begun to sour. Increasingly the pastor and his board have heated conversations about the church’s direction. The conflict has bled into every meeting for months. Emotions are running high. Conflict reaches a flash point. There is no written plan on how to deal with it. What happens? The board either sends the pastor packing or he quits out of frustration. A rarity? No. Over 1500 pastors are forced from the ministry each month and many more pastors simply quit because they’re broken. Many are pondering leaving right now. What can a board or pastor to encourage biblical conflict resolution? That’s the focus of this post.
When emotions run rampant among pastors and boards, thoughtfulness seldom prevails. Our emotional brain hijacks our thinking brain.
So what is the solution to this problem? A written, clear, agreed-upon conflict resolution process. Here are 5 reasons your church needs one.
1. Simply quoting Matthew 18:15-17 on dealing with conflict often doesn’t cut it. Although it’s the basis for conflict resolution, it’s seldom practiced without specific written guidelines.
2. When we’re emotional, we don’t think clearly. When that happens we need something objective that is not open to interpretation, something that specifically explains the process how board-staff or staff-staff conflict can be resolved.
3. Such a policy can often result in a more redemptive resolution to conflict than knee-jerk reactions like firing or quitting.
4. We are called to model to the world love for each other (John 13.34-35). How we respond to conflict often conveys just the opposite.
5. When we solve conflict in a God honoring way we embody unity, what the Scriptures often command us to seek. Ephesians 4.13 says, Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
I highly recommend the organization called Peacemakers to help you craft such a policy. Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker, founded and leads this organization. Every pastor should read his book.
They also offer training and have produced some excellent materials you can use to teach your church and leaders. Check out this link for their resources.
Does your church have a conflict resolution policy? If not, what would be a good first step to create one?
This article was written by Dr Charles Stone and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.