Archives For HolySpirit

This is the closest I might come to writing an old-school, blues influenced, straight-up, Gospel song. It was written in 2013 and still holds an element of relevance.

“Everlasting Father[i], Son and Holy Spirit, divine
You are ‘I am’…Yahweh…pure breath…pure life.

Help me to hear your encouragement and receive
the whispers…that silence my pain

Help me to be set free
From the words that have hurt me
From the wounds and rage that won’t let me go
Help me to see your version of me, not the version I see reflected by others.

Striking healer; mighty God, accept my response

I confess that I have shown you contempt
I confess the pretence of my “worship”, and the self-absorbed pretence that enters my prayers.

Holy One of Israel you are great in our midst,

I acknowledge your complete presence.
“Show me how to kneel” …I surrender my brokenness.
I know you have not abandoned us
I know I need to be more vulnerable. Help me  speak precisely from your heart.

Father God; creator; redeemer; sanctifier
You ‘do not grow weary’ (Is 40:28)

Thank you for ‘good news’ (Is 61:1)
Thank you for ‘uniting the pieces of my broken-heart’ (Is 61:1)
Accept my brokenness and tears
For this, Lord, ‘you do not despise’ (Psalm 52:17, NLT)

Let your blessings that shine through provision bring us to say:

With you, I rise and speak to the calamity in Jesus name ‘peace, be still’ (Psalm 107:29)
With you, I rise and speak to the conflict in Jesus name ‘peace, be still’
With you, I rise and speak to the suffering caused by misunderstanding, in Jesus name ‘peace , be still’ (Matt.8:23/Mk. 4:39/Lk 8:24)

……worthy is the lamb….may the  lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering‘.

Amen.”

[Isaiah and the Gospels speak into our lives. They suggest that rescue  will only come from the ‘serenity that results from Jesus’ intervention’ (Green 1997, p. 331).

This is ‘Jesus acting as God acts’…it is Jesus looking for my ‘faith to show itself in those circumstances’ (ibid 1997, p. 333), by gifting me with the patience and ability to forgive.

A faith that looks to His resurrection, as a signal fire that points me to Isaiah’s Yahweh, as the ‘wounding healer’ (Baer 2010). The one who dynamically responds in grace to my inconsistent gratitude.

‘God gives himself to sinners and sinners cannot escape that gracious decision…the sinner who refuses this election of grace resists that grace and is resisted by it…Humanity is not sheltered from God but exposed to him and bound to him as never before in a bond of forgiveness and reconciliation’
(Torrance, ‘Incarnation’ 2008 pp.110 &113)

References:

[i] ‘He predestined us for adoption as sons & daughters through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace’ (Eph.1:5-7 ESV)

[ii] Green, Joel 1997 NICNT: The Gospel of Luke Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, Michigan

[iii]  Baer David, ‘Praying through Isaiah’ lecture notes October 2010, Tabor Adelaide

Creator God

November 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

A theologically informed prayer, (slightly adjusted) from an assessment I did a few years back.

 

Thank you that we can hear you.

Father, son and spirit divine, you are subject.

Revelation

Mysterious, immanent yet transcendent, worthy of dependence

English: Stained glass windows at Notre-Dame, ...

English: Stained glass windows at Notre-Dame, Geneva, Switzerland. Top: God the Father; middle: Dove of Holy Spirit in trefoil; lower: Annunciation scene. Français : Vitraux de la basilique Notre-Dame, Genève, Suisse. Deutsch: Fenster in der Liebfrauenbasilika, Genf, Schweiz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To be trusted because you trust

To be engaged because you engage

To be loved because you love

Creator we hear your still, small voice

King of Kings, we acknowledge your authority

receive your advice in counsel and conviction;

hear your smile in our comfort,  and  provision

Healing Creator, you are the creative imperative in our brokenness, tears and silence

Father, help us to listen

The further we remove ourselves from your existence,

The less free

The less created we are.

Because of you we are fully human and fully free

As we hear your voice, may we be restored to the, whom, you intended us to be.

Help us to hear you clearly.

Help us to express you with passionate articulation

Encouraged to response because you respond

Encouraged to relationship because you choose to exist in relation to us

Help us to draw near to this Good News, in gratitude and obedience; grace and law.

Creator Father, son and Holy Spirit divine

Infused with ultimate creativity

We create because you create,

Creating because we are created

Celebrating because we are celebrated

Holy one, we see your reflection externally and internally

Hidden yet revealed, end. of. days

You are the Christ-event, the apocalypse

A revelation that is

Not a bankrupt illusion

Nor a superstitious delusion

Thank you for your inspiration

Thank you for life.

Amen.

©RL2013

There are times when the text of a book takes a hold of you. It leaves you changed for the better. Thinking clearer.

If there were any recent events that might exemplify this for me I would have to say that it occurred with my reading of Tom Smail’s book, ‘The Giving Gift: the Holy Spirit in Person’.

April May 2012 192_Suncloudwater

Source: RL2012

Smail’s text is 214 pages long. Which is still a considerable work even when matched against other texts regarding the study of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology).

My initial thoughts about this book were fraught with caution. Mainly because of negative experiences with Pentecostalism, experiences, which frankly, far outweigh any positive stories worth sharing. (Yeh. Not being melodramatic – they are bad.) They don’t read well for some Charismatic’s who claim to be a conduit of ‘’physical manifestation’’ for the Holy Spirit every Sunday.

In a lot of ways though I still lean towards a Pentecostal understanding of ecclesiology. In fact I’d say I favour its focus on God’s freedom, the Holy Spirit and ecumenical dialogue. So I don’t deny that these physical responses can exist in a genuine way.  I do however remain sceptical about how often the focus turns towards the individual experiencing them as a ‘’move of God’’, and how the focus ends up being directed away from Christ, the cross and the life-giving journey that follows (eternal and otherwise – discipleship).

You would be right in thinking that an unhealthy focus on “manifestations” is totally inconsistent with the charisma (gift of the Spirit) poured out on the church as a whole by the Father, and not just on individuals who seem to project a superior spiritual connection to God.If this is so and Smail is right, how does the distraction, caused by ”manifestations” not become misdirection?  Surely community is lessened the more an individual takes centre stage in this context.

Needless to say, I found it difficult to travel further into the subject. However this critical enquiry was a crucial encounter as it affirmed some of my conclusions, and challenged me to dig deeper.

From the start Smail insists that the Holy Spirit is not about showmanship or glorifying select individuals.

He uses a floodlight analogy (2002:31) asserting that the Spirit’s purpose is not to outshine the Son or blind people from seeing the Son. We are reminded that the Holy Spirit is not about putting on a show to draw attention to itself. Smail asserts that the Spirit’s purpose is twofold. He invites us into the light that is illuminating the Son directing our attention to Christ. (Ps.36:9)

He points out:

‘A Christian becomes charismatic NOT when he or she speaks in tongues and prophesies but when they confess the Kurios (Lord) and Abba (Father)’ (Smail 2002:13 & 46).

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Source: RL2013 ‘Hunting for fireflies’

In other words, according to Smail, if you are a Christian you are a Spirit filled charismatic – empowered (Jn.3:8). Just not in the stereotypical sense now attached to the word.

A little further into the text and Smail relates this empowering with Peter’s response to Jesus in Matthew 16:17. Here there is an ‘explicit contrast between the one confessed and the enabler of the confession’ (Smail 2002:48). Ergo the Spirit empowers our Yes to God (2002:46). I.e.: We do not answer this by ourselves; we confess this for ourselves (Smail 2002:49) because God is for us.

It is helpful that Smail attempts to map out the Spirit’s identity and purpose stating that:

‘the Spirit’s action is personal’ (2002:33); the ‘Spirit acts in the service of the Son who receives from the Spirit; a mutual subordination’ (2002:25).The Spirit is distinct from us and the Son but is connected through its own life-giving presence.[1]

In a controversial, but useful statement Smail writes that the ‘Father and the Son, each in his own way are the givers of the Spirit’ (Smail 2002:15 & 49[2]). The Spirit is then understood as the ‘primary gift’ (2002:16); the one who enables ‘repentance and faith’ (2002:19). Other than Jesus, Mary (and probably Joseph) is the quintessential New Testament example of this response; the human “Yes” to God. The Spirit is a gift; charisma, and like Mary, a response to this gift is required.

Secondly, any ‘new beginning in Christ takes a ‘creative act of God’ (2002:27).

This implies that I cannot force the gift onto others or manipulate the creative act to suite my own purposes because the ‘Spirit (breath of God) is in us, with us, but never becomes part of us’ (2002:21).

When our attention is most focussed on Christ, we honour the Spirit’ (2002:31). ‘Our relationship to Him is always a relation of persons not a merging of spirits; the One who gives Himself to us is one who is and remains other than us and distinct from us’ (Smail 2002:35).

It was not easy to be redirected towards a right theological position. Affirmation mixed with correction was welcome even though it was difficult to process.

Consequently, Smail’s discourse allowed me to see things a little clearer.Thankfully any conditioning in this area was worked out in the struggle to reconcile what I was seeing with what I was reading in the scriptures. Smail’s text had great deal to do with providing some solid theological grounding here and for that I am grateful.

Related reading:

Borlaise, C. 2006 William Seymour: Azusa Street Revival, A Biography Chrisma House, Strang LM. FL (Recommended)
Chan, S. 1998 Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life InterVarsity Press Downers Grove IL
Spurgeon, C. Holy Spirit Power Whitaker House 1996 NK PA (Recommended)
Pinnock, C.H. 1996 Flame of Love: A theology of the Holy Spirit InterVarsity Press Downers Grove IL

Source:

Smail, T. 2002 the Giving Gift: The Holy Spirit in Person First Academic Renewal Press Ed. Limo, Ohio


[1] ‘Christ as the object of relationship and the Spirit its enabling subject’ (Smail 2002, p.46)
[2] ‘The Spirit is the gift, the Father is Giver and the Son is the recipient of that gift’ (Smail 2002, p.49)

MJ GVL 2014

Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, a professor of theology, once declared that Gospel-spirituals were ‘chants of collective exorcism’ (Modern Christianity, 2010 p.317).

Duggan was inadvertently pointing out that being passionate involves an audience/community – it invites participation.

I think that when we consider the difference between passion and being passionate we can identify more precisely what the word passion truly implies.

I consider having passion (noun – passive/static) and being passionate (adjective – active/dynamic) separate – the former is based on appearances the latter is based on tangible evidence/substance. To be sure this is a subtle distinction falling closely inside the realm of semantics. However it is fair to suggest that being passionate is different from simply just having passion.

For instance: a working thesis of mine is that a lot of people like the idea of something or someone’s existence, yet they do not like the reality that that something or someone exists.

This shows we can have passion which is expressed in our attraction to an idea or, we can be passionate which is expressed not just in our attraction to an idea, but also to its reality.

This observation is helpful in understanding the distinction between the words passion and passionate. For example: having passion is passive, it is always receiving and it essentially goes nowhere.

Alternatively being passionate takes joy in existence. It is the description of a dynamic-active acceptance of something or someone. In theological terms this is evidenced by the idea of worship which involves a willingness to be ‘vulnerable’ and contribute (Brene Brown’s Gifts of imperfection, 2010).

Worship in this sense is the grateful acceptance of an invitation, one handed mysteriously to us from the Holy Spirit. This is an invitation to join the living, breathing life of the Divine (Phil.2:1, 2 Pet.1:4).

Possibly the best way to explain my point is visually. Take for example Mahalia Jackson (linked). It is difficult to just sit by and witness her ”passion” like an indifferent spectator would. This is because we are moved and drawn in by her authentic passionate response.

The Holy Spirit inspires change and her gratitude is deep and authentic. I think we could probably say that what we are witnessing is her passionate, active and dynamic participation with Father, Son and Spirit. Hers is a Holy participation and we are invited to hear (Rom.10:17) and then be enabled to move beyond ourselves. In this way our worship becomes a ‘chant of collective exorcism’.

Instead of consuming the message we are consumed by it! Similarly when we witness the cry of a martyr, through that experience we become martyrs (Tertullian).

This fits with my premise that having passion is to be considered separate from being passionate. Subsequently we either accept the invitation to participate or we sit back and eventually switch off.

The Holy Spirit’s role in igniting human passion is a primary elementin the creative formation and delivery of any passionate message and response.

Whatever forms that message may be the Holy Spirit is the one who inspires movement. The Spirit does this by inspiring change towards an inclusion into the content of that often disturbing message.

There His life giving breath (Job 33:4 ESV) is whispered into our hearts summoning us to the ‘freedom of response and fellowship’ (Barth C.D II/2) with God.

Consequently we will almost ALWAYS walk away ‘disturbed’ (Barth C.D. IV/II 1958, p.524) by a decisive and deliberate encounter with the transcendent God. The ‘Free God’ (Barth) who has chosen to make himself known in that time and place.


©Rod Lampard, 2014.